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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa in November 2020. Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ethiopia has again delayed its national elections amid ongoing violence in the country’s Tigray region, AP reports.

Why it matters: The country previously postponed national elections, which would be the first major electoral test for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were then rescheduled for June 5. Officials have not set a new date.

The big picture: The head of the national elections board, Birtukan Mideksa, in a meeting with representatives for political parties on Saturday said the vote must be postposed by an estimated two to three weeks to finish printing ballots, training staffers and compiling voting information, according to AP.

Context: The conflict in the Tigray region between the Ethiopian military and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) group has killed thousands.

  • The U.S. has described human rights abuses occurring in the region as "acts of ethnic cleansing” against Tigrayans.
  • Abiy declared victory in the conflict in December 2020 after Ethiopia's army captured Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray, from the TPLF.
  • The warring parties have exchanged allegations of war crimes and genocide.

What they're saying: "The United States is gravely concerned by the increasing number of confirmed cases of military forces blocking humanitarian access to parts of the Tigray region," U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement Saturday.

  • "This unacceptable behavior places the 5.2 million people in the region in immediate need of humanitarian assistance at even greater risk," Blinken added.
  • "The United States unequivocally calls upon the Governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia to take all necessary steps to ensure that their forces in Tigray cease and desist this reprehensible conduct."
  • "There are many credible reports of armed forces in Tigray committing acts of violence against civilians, including gender-based violence and other human rights abuses and atrocities. The conduct of the Eritrean Defense Forces and Amhara regional forces have been particularly egregious."

Go deeper

Jake Sullivan: Biden didn't think it was "inevitable" Taliban would take control

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that President Biden did not believe it was "inevitable" that the Taliban would take control of Afghanistan, laying the blame at the feet of the Afghan security forces who "decided not to step up and fight for their country."

Why it matters: Biden is under fire for comments he made just over a month ago, when he dismissed comparisons to the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam and said it was "highly unlikely" that the Taliban would control the entire country.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

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