Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: Debretsion Gebremichael, the man at the heart of the conflict

Publishedduration17 minutes agoimage copyrightGetty Images

A former guerrilla fighter who used to jam the communication network of Ethiopian troops, Debretsion Gebremichael is now leading the fight against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government for control of the northern Tigray region, described as the "womb" of the nation.

Mr Debretsion leads the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the party which controls Tigray, and which has fallen out so dramatically with Mr Abiy.

Now married with a young child, Mr Debretsion cut short his studies at the University of Addis Ababa in the 1970s to join the TPLF in its 17-year war against Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam's Derg regime.

He then went on to be a government minister after the Derg had been defeated and replaced by a coalition of parties dominated by the TPLF until Mr Abiy came to power in 2018.

His close friend and comrade Alemayehu Gezahegn said that after they had both completed their military training in the rugged and mountainous terrain of Tigray and, noting his comrade's technical skills, he suggested to TPLF commanders that Mr Debretsion should be deployed to the "technical unit".

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