FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attends a signing ceremony with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia December 7, 2019. REUTERS
Ethiopian lawmakers on Saturday voted to scrap the current government in the federal state of Tigray and replace it, just days after Addis Ababa launched a military operation in the northern region.
Fears are mounting over the prospect of civil war after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent federal troops into the region with which Addis Ababa has been embroiled in a bitter feud.
Abiy on Friday vowed there would be airstrikes on Tigray, defending his decision as a limited operation necessary to restore law and order to the region.
On Saturday the upper house of parliament "passed a decision to abolish the existing illegal Tigray regional assembly and executive, and for a caretaker administration to be formed," the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported.
The house of federation's decision was based on a legal provision allowing federal intervention in a region deemed to have "violated the constitution and endangered the constitutional system."
"The caretaker administration will be mandated with conducting a constitutionally acceptable election and to implement decisions passed on by the federal government," the EBC said.
The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated politics in Ethiopia for nearly three decades before Abiy came to power in 2018 on the back of anti-government protests, even though Tigrayans make up only about six percent of a population of more than 100 million people.
Under Abiy, the region's leaders have complained of being unfairly targeted in corruption prosecutions, removed from top positions and broadly scapegoated for the country's woes.
The feud became more intense after Tigray held its own elections in September, defying Abiy's government which had decided to postpone national polls due to the coronavirus pandemic.