Right now there are mixed feelings about the events happening in the Horn of Africa.
Those in Addis Ababa and sympathetic to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are worried or concerned that unless there is some kind of negotiated truce quickly, the Tigrayan rebels might break loose and head south to bring mayhem to the capital seat of African Union.
While on the other hand, the Tigrayans and their sympathisers must be getting worried about the ongoing enmasse recruitment by the Ethiopian army readying themselves for a decisive assault on the rebels now stationed in Dessei and Kombolcha, some 380 miles from Addis.
Even with their swift and blitz move from Mekele down the main highway to the capturing of the two towns, it is the Tigrayan Defense Forces (TDF) that really needs and should be pressing for an urgent ceasefire.
What is certain is that as the TDF reinvented themselves after having been flushed out of Mekele by the Ethiopian army assisted by the Eritreans during the November last year deadly encounter, the Tigrayans somehow managed to outwit their foes and regained full control of the Tigrayan capital Mekele plus some adjacent towns.
With the excitement of having overpowered what they now refer to as the occupying forces from Addis and Asamara, the ranks of TDF swelled with new recruits which consisted largely of youths who happened to unemployed and in a desperate situation due the devastation that the fighting of November last year had brought to bear on this rugged region of Ethiopia.
As the numbers kept increasing by day, the strategists and commanders of TDF had no option but to take advantage of this number and move south. The young and exuberant new recruits were eager to enter the theater of combat.
Within not many days, we saw pictures of streams of fairly well uniform dressed soldiers marching along the highway from Mekele down south on foot, few trucks or mini buses could be seen filled with chanting soldiers on the move south.
With the retreat of the government soldiers it was as swift and as easy for the approaching TDF to announce the capture of the two adjoining towns of Dessei and Kombolcha. This is where the TDF are camped currently and probably contemplating their next move.
Although, their spokesperson has repeatedly threated that they were determined to continue trekking down south towards Addis if the reported seige on Tigray is not lifted, it is very doubtful that they actually have that appetite to do so.
The current and imminent fear however is if the TDF from their current positions decided to expand Eastwards to capture the very strategic lifelines of Ethiopia, the highway and the railway line that runs from Addis to Djibouti on the Red Sea. It is something that is very possible from the military standpoint of the TDF but something that would in effect entail a contra seige on Addis Ababa by the Tigrayans. In the meantime, the hope is that they won’t do it.
The obvious reason for this hesitancy is found in what Prime Minister Abiy has been doing lately. He has summoned on all able bodied Ethiopians to go for recruitment so that they can be conscripted in the army to beat off the advancing rebels. Indeed scores of youths have yielded and are undergoing quick training readying them for deployment on the front line.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian army has been assembling along the highway from Addis to the north, army trucks loaded with katushya guns, howltzer guns and other various fire power ready to mow down the stubborn rebels.
Now, should PM Abiy decide not to heed to the various pleas both international and regional for a ceasefire and he goes ahead to give his matching orders to his military commanders to attack and flush out the TDF rebels, it will for sure be a blood bath that is unprecedented.
Just the firing power that the government side has and can be fired from long range into the rebel position in Dessei and Kombolcha is deadly in itself and will leave scores both soldiers and civilians mowed down in unprecedented numbers.
Once the shelling starts, it will have to be seen how the rebels who trekked from Tigray on foot will be able to retreat without being caught up in hot pursuit by the Government soldiers itching for revenge and teach the rebels a lesson.
All what can be predictable is that the entire highway route from the two temporarily captured towns to Mekele will be a killing field.
This is the very reason why there is an urgent need to negotiate a ceasefire.
The TDF actually do need this ceasefire much more desparately than the Government side. They need to tactfully buy time so that they can wisely retreat to their most familiar grounds within Tigray and then be hopeful that a political solution to the current stand off can be found through the various diplomatic efforts that are at play now.
Otherwise, the Tigrayans have already made a loud statement of their resentment of marginalisation by Addis Ababa.
They have spoken loudly on the need for the restoration of regional federal governments and the sharing of power with the center, an arrangement that had been the bedrock for stability in Ethiopia for many years but something that PM Abiy dismantled to the changrin of the regional governments.
Now it is time for dialogue and not anymore fighting. Guns need to go silent and the meeting rooms opened.
As Ethiopians, all aggrieved and grieving parties need to come together in a respectful candid dialogue to find an amicable solution that will enable the sovereign intergrity of Ethiopia to be maintained.
May be these unfortunate events taking place should serve not only for the Ethiopians to reflect on what could have gone wrong to this otherwise bourgeoning envy of Africa, but should also serve as a deep reflection for other African countries to ask what happened to the African beacon of hope that had excited the US President Bill Clinton when in 1998 while visiting Africa described the four African leaders; the late Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, Afawareki of Eriteria and Paul Kagame of Rwanda as the new breed of African leaders .
To President Clinton, the four leaders at the time, represented the African renaissance and hope for prosperity anchored on democracy and observance of human rights. Actually, at the time, the four mentioned leaders were enjoying not only comaraderieship but also a brotherly cordial relationship which aroused hope for greater things on the continent. I doubt if there is much talk about that enthusiasm anymore!