On 4 November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the military to deploy in the Tigray region in order to confront the regional government. Ahmed accused local authorities of sanctioning an attack by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) against a military base. Simultaneously, Ahmed declared a six-month state of emergency in the region, citing “illegal and violent activities” that endanger “the constitution and constitutional order, public peace and security.” Phone lines and internet connections in the region were also reportedly disrupted, while regional news sources reported that local officials closed airspace over the region. Ahmed denied reports of the airspace closure, as well as allegations that the northern command of the military defected to the Tigray government.

Analyst comment: Tensions between the Tigray regional government and the federal government have been steadily increasing in recent months. Notably, officials in Tigray held regional elections in September despite a federal postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahmed’s government stated that it will not acknowledge the results of that election and the House of Federation ruled the event unconstitutional.