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Ethiopia: PM Abiy rejects claims army killed civilians in Tigray | Ethiopia

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Abiy Ahmed also told Parliament army would not destroy Tigrayan capital Mekelle after capturing it recently.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said federal troops had not killed a single civilian in their nearly month-long offensive against regional forces in Tigray.

Abiy also assured Parliament on Monday that the army would not destroy Mekelle, capital of Tigray, after announcing its capture yesterday.

The Ethiopian government has been trying to quell a rebellion by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a powerful ethnically based party that dominated the central government for nearly three decades until Abiy came to power in 2018.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed since the fighting began, more than 43,000 have fled to neighbouring Sudan, and there are reports of armed groups attacking civilians.

“Every target has been signed and approved. The House [parliament] can see that. Every missile launched is backed by a signature of authority,” Abiy told lawmakers.

“Ninety-nine percent of them hit their targets and 99 percent of them didn’t have collateral damage. No country’s army can show this level of performance. Our army is disciplined and victorious.

“They said you will destroy Mekelle and so on. Mekelle is ours. It was built with our resources, we are not going to destroy it. Not even a single person was affected by the operation.”

There was no immediate response from the TPLF, which had accused the government of targeting civilians in air raids and ground fighting.

Claims from both sides are difficult to verify since phone and internet links to Tigray have been largely down and access has been tightly controlled.

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, said Abiy’s claim contradicts what some humanitarian groups have reported.

“Recently, we had a report from the Red Cross who say that in Mekelle, 80 percent of the people in hospitals have trauma injuries even though they don’t say how they got those trauma injuries. They also say there is a serious shortage of medical supplies and of body bags,” Webb said.

On Monday, Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael said his forces were still fighting near Mekelle, which fell to government troops after nearly a month of fighting.

“I’m close to Mekelle in Tigray fighting the invaders,” Debretsion told Reuters news agency in a text message, which the government dismissed as a deluded claim.

Sudan is hosting more than 43,000 refugees fleeing the fighting in Tigray [Baz Ratner/Reuters]

Abiy’s government launched an offensive on November 4 against the TPLF, accusing the former guerrilla movement of insurrection.

Federal forces announced that they had taken Mekelle, a highland city of 500,000 people, with relatively little resistance, though the TPLF said on Monday it had shot down a plane and retaken a town.

Debretsion, a 57-year-old former radio operator, also denied reports he had fled to South Sudan and said his forces had captured some soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea around Wukro, about 50km (30 miles) north of Mekelle.



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US House delivers Trump impeachment article to Senate | Politics News

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The US House of Representatives has presented its article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate, a step that formally sets in motion the Senate trial against the former United States president.

Walking from one side of the US Capitol to the other, nine House managers appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi hand-delivered the impeachment document to the Senate on Monday evening.

The article charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” in relation to the deadly storming on January 6 of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC by a mob of his supporters.

The House impeached Trump on January 13 on the same charge – making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

Monday’s formal step kickstarts the trial phase of the impeachment process, in which all 100 senators will sit as jurors to hear evidence and legal arguments from House managers, who act as prosecutors in the case, and the former president’s defence team.

To be convicted, the Senate must secure a two-thirds majority on the impeachment charge.

If that happens, a subsequent vote could bar Trump from running for public office again in the future.

Trial to start in February

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have agreed on a timeline for the trial, which is expected to begin during the week of February 8.

“Both the House managers and the former president’s counsel will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials,” Senate leader Chuck Schumer said in remarks to the chamber on Monday.

“Once the briefs are drafted, presentations by the parties will commence the week of February 8th,” he said.

Senators will be sworn in as jurors on Wednesday and a summons will be sent by the Senate to the former president, requiring him to answer the article of impeachment.

Trump has been initially defiant amid accusations he incited the Capitol mob in a speech he gave before the breach and in repeated false claims that the presidential election had been stolen from him.

Before the House vote to impeach him, Trump had said his speech to the January 6 rally of his supporters was “totally appropriate”.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior Democrat who holds the title of president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the trial instead of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

“When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tem takes an additional oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws,” Leahy said in a statement.

“It is an oath I take extraordinarily seriously,” he said.

Republicans divided

Republicans are divided over the impeachment, with some senators saying Trump should be held accountable for the Capitol riot and others fearing a conviction of the former Republican president could be damaging for the party.

Some Republican legislators have argued that holding an impeachment trial after Trump has left office is unconstitutional – a claim that has been rejected by Democrats and some US experts.

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Washington, DC, said on Monday that some Republicans have also said the trial could further divide the country.

“Democrats, to counter that, have said that in order to get to unity, as everyone is calling for, first there must be accountability,” Zhou-Castro said.

“And they’re saying that if Trump were to indeed be guilty of inciting insurrection and simply leave office and not be held accountable, then that would set a dangerous precedent.”

Democrats will need to get more than a dozen Republicans to vote in favour of impeachment to get a conviction, as Democrats only have a slim majority in the chamber.

Trial timeline, procedure

House managers and Trump’s defence team will exchange legal briefs in the days leading up to the start of the trial.

The nine House managers will be led in the trial by Representative Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar and leading advocate in the House for charging Trump with insurrection after the January 6 attacks.

The House managers have retained lawyers Barry Berke and Joshua Matz to help support their prosecution of the case.

Both Berke and Matz participated in the first Senate impeachment trial against Trump in 2020, which involved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice for his attempts to pressure the government of Ukraine.

Pro-Trump protesters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

For his part, Trump has retained Butch Bowers of South Carolina, an experienced trial lawyer who has previously represented politicians.

House managers will have until February 2 to file their pre-trial brief laying out the case for conviction. Trump’s defence counsel will have the same deadline to respond to the charge, the Reuters news agency reported.

February 8 is the next deadline for Trump’s legal team to file a response to the House brief, and for the House managers to file a response to the president’s answer to the article of impeachment.



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