G7 foreign ministers demand a “quick” withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray

The G7 group of leading economic powers on Friday called for a “rapid, unconditional and verifiable” withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia’s conflict-torn northern Tigray region.

“We welcome the announcement by Prime Minister Abiy that Eritrean forces will withdraw from Tigray,” G7 foreign ministers said in a statement released in Berlin, referring to Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed.

“This process must be fast, unconditional and verifiable.”

Ministers called for “an end to the violence and the establishment of a clear inclusive political process acceptable to all Ethiopians, including those in Tigray”.

The G7 statement said the process must lead to credible elections and a broader national reconciliation process.

Abiy sent troops to Tigray in November to imprison and disarm leaders of the once dominant regional party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

He said the move came in response to TPLF-orchestrated attacks on federal army camps.

For several months, both countries denied that Eritrean troops were in Tigray, which contradicts the accounts of residents, aid workers, diplomats and even some Ethiopian officials.

Amid growing international pressure, Abiy said last week that Eritrean troops would withdraw from Tigray.

But the region’s interim leader Mulu Nega told AFP this week that withdrawal was “a process” and would not happen immediately.

The G7 countries also said they were “strongly concerned” about the latest reports of rights violations in Tigray.

“All parties must exercise the utmost restraint, ensure the protection of civilians and respect human rights and international law,” they said.