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Eritrea's president calls Tigray rights abuse claims a 'fantasy'

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki gestures during a joint press conference with President William Ruto at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya on February 9, 2023   -  
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LUIS TATO/AFP or licensors


Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said Thursday that allegations of rights abuses by Eritrean troops in Ethiopia's Tigray region during the two-year war there amounted to "fantasy".

"This is a fantasy in the minds of those who are... in this factory I call a factory of fabricating misinformation," Isaias told reporters during a visit to Kenya, deflecting questions about the presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia.

Eritrea's army supported Ethiopian forces during the federal government's war against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and has been accused by the United States and rights groups of some of the conflict's worst atrocities.

The war ended with a peace deal signed in November last year that called for the withdrawal of foreign forces, but there was no specific mention of Eritrea, whose regime considers the TPLF its archenemy.

Asmara was not a party to the agreement and its troops continue to be present in parts of Tigray, according to residents who accuse the soldiers of murder, rape and looting.

Asked about the continued presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray, Isaias said: "I have no intention of interfering in this matter in spite of the disinformation campaign going on trying to disrupt the process of peace in Ethiopia and trying to create conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia."

"Don't take Eritrea as a pretext for the problems in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the whole region. Don't try to drag us into a situation. It is a fantasy of those who want to derail any peace process achieving its goal," he added.

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