Home WORLD AFRICA Ethiopia: Tigray rebels ready for AU-led talks

Ethiopia: Tigray rebels ready for AU-led talks

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This announcement was welcomed by theAU like a unique opportunity.

The government of Tigray is ready to participate in a robust peace process under the auspices of the African Unionsays a statement from the authorities of the rebel region.

Furthermore, we are ready to respect an immediate and mutually accepted cessation of hostilities, in order to create a conducive atmospherethey added.

The move comes amid increased diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, after renewed fighting last month shattered a truce established in March.

The Ethiopian government had long insisted that any peace process should be negotiated under the aegis of theAUheadquartered in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

But the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had until then always rejected the mediation of the special envoy of theAU in the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, denouncing his proximity with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Olusegun Obasanjo in traditional clothes wearing a procedure mask.

The African Union (AU) special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Photo: dpa via getty images / EDUARDO SOTERAS

A welcome step forward

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, hailed a unique opportunity to end nearly two years of war, and calledAUincluding mutually agreed international partners”,”text”:”both sides to work urgently to establish a ceasefire, to engage in direct negotiations, within the framework of a process under the aegis of the AU, including mutually agreed international partners”}}”>the two parties to work urgently to establish a ceasefire, to engage in direct negotiations, within the framework of a process under the aegis of theAUincluding mutually agreed international partners.

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On Twitter, Ethiopian Minister of State for Peace Taye Dendea called the TPLF announcement apositive developmentwhile emphasizing that the so-called TDFs [forces de défense du Tigré] must be disarmed before the start of peace talks.

The general secretary of theUNAntonio Guterres, called in a statement the parties to seize this opportunity for peace and to take measures to put an end to the violence once and for all and opt for dialogue. He assured that the United Nations was ready to support the peace process led by theAU.

The announcement of TPLFwhich coincides with the Ethiopian New Year, does not mention a precondition, but the Tigrayan rebels say they want a peace process crediblewith mediators acceptable by both parties, as well as international observers.

At the beginning of the month, the head of TPLFDebretsion Gebremichael, had offered a conditional truce providing for a unimpeded humanitarian access and the restoration of essential services in Tigray, which suffers from food shortages and a lack of electricity, communications and banking services.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, he also called for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from all of Ethiopia and Tigray.

Sunday’s statement said a negotiating team including Getachew Reda, the spokesman for the TPLFand General Tsadkan Gebretensae, former chief of staff of the Ethiopian army now at the central military command of Tigray, is ready to deploy immediately.

Last month, Mr Debretsion revealed that two rounds of confidential one-on-one meetings had taken place between senior civilian and military officials, the first acknowledgment by either warring side of direct contact.

Fighting has raged on several fronts in northern Ethiopia since hostilities resumed on August 24, with both sides accusing each other of breaking a truce reached in March.

Abiy Ahmed, Nobel Peace Prize winner, had sent troops to Tigray in November 2020 to overthrow the TPLFafter what he had seen as attacks on federal army camps.

But the rebels had succeeded in June 2021 in retaking most of Tigray, before the fighting reached a stalemate.

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