February 2023: Week one disinformation summary

Eritrean troops are still in Tigray

The peace agreement between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF in November 2022 concluded the war that broke out exactly two years ago.

The Eritrea Defence Forces, Amhara regional militia, and other armed forces had been involved in the war alongside the federal government of Ethiopia against TPLF forces.

The peace agreement signed in Pretoria, South Africa asserts that TPLF forces shall surrender their weapons and foreign and non-ENDF armed forces to leave the regional state of Tigray.

The Ethiopian government and the TPLF agreed that the disarmament of heavy weapons of the TPLF should be done concurrently with the withdrawal of Eritrean and non-ENDF forces from the Tigray.

Recent news reports indicate that Eritrean soldiers started withdrawing from Tigray last month. They left the towns of Aksum, Adwa, and Shire. Additionally, Amhara regional armed forces also reportedly left Shire town.

Yet, it is still unknown whether the non-ENDF and Eritrean troops have fully withdrawn from the Tigray regional state.

Against this backdrop, a Facebook post emerged on Feb 3, 2023, sharing an image with a claim that Eritrean soldiers had not fully withdrawn and were still in northeastern parts of Tigray.

Yet, the image was old and taken from a publication made in May 2021. The picture was first published along with a news story by CNN.

Therefore, HaqCheck rendered the post False.

Celebration over the appointment of new bishops in Oromia

On Jan 22, 2023, Abune Sawiros, Archbishop of South West Shoa, along with two archbishops appointed 26 bishops without the recognition of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. Seventy of the bishops appointed by Abune Sawiros were announced to be dispatched to churches in the Oromia regional state.

Following this appointment, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church denounced the act. The Church also excommunicated Abune Sawiros and other bishops who co-organized the appointment.

A few days later, the breakaway archbishops announced that nominee bishops would soon be dispatched to various parishes in Oromia.

Social media reports indicate that the newly appointed bishops were sent to their respective domains and were warmly received by residents.

In this context, the Facebook page followed by over two million accounts shared three images on Jan 27, 2023, claiming that residents of many towns in the Oromia region were celebrating the appointment of new bishops.

The images, however, do not support the claim. The first two images in the post were taken from a YouTube video published in February 2020.

The third picture depicts Abune Sawiros who appointed the new bishops. The image was recently posted on Facebook.


Social media users are recommended to be skeptical of potentially misleading and fraudulent posts. They should look for additional information before reacting.

HaqCheck urges public offices and other institutions to offer sufficient and timely updates regarding ongoing issues that are of public interest.

The government should secure the right of citizens and the media to access information.

We recommend social media content creators be responsible and avoid circulating false and misleading information.

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