Ethiopia: Tigray rebels ready for AU-led talks

Ethiopia: Tigray rebels ready for AU-led talks

Ethiopians who fled fighting in the Tigray region gather near the border with Sudan (file).

Ethiopian rebels in Tigray announced on Sunday that they were ready to participate in peace talks under the aegis of the African Union (AU), aimed at ending nearly two years of armed conflict in this region of northern Ethiopia.< /p>

This announcement has been hailed by the AU as a unique opportunity.

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

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

This decision comes amid increasing diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, after renewed fighting last month shattered a truce established in March.

The Ethiopian government has long insisted that any peace process must be negotiated under the aegis of the AU, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. .

But the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) had until then always rejected the mediation of the AU's special envoy to the Horn of Africa, the former president Nigerian Olusegun Obasanjo, denouncing his closeness to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Union Special Envoy (AU) in the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, hailed a unique opportunity to end nearly two years of war, and called on both sides to work urgently towards the establishment of peace and security. a ceasefire, to engage in direct negotiations, within the framework of an AU-led process, including mutually agreed international partners.

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On Twitter, Ethiopia's Minister of State for Peace, Taye Dendea, called the TPLF announcement a positive development, while insisting that the so-called TDF [Defence Forces of Tigray] must be disarmed before the start of peace talks.

The TPLF announcement, which coincides with the Ethiopian New Year, does not mention any preconditions, but the Tigrayan rebels say they want a credible peace process, with mediators acceptable to both sides, as well as international observers.

Earlier this month, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael offered a conditional truce providing for unhindered humanitarian access and the restoration of essential services in Tigray, which suffers from food shortages and a lack of food. electricity, communications and banking services.

A World Food Program (WFP) truck carrying grain to Tigray is engulfed in flames in June 2022.

In a letter to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres , he had 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 TPLF spokesman, and General Tsadkan Gebretensae, former chief of staff of the Ethiopian army today; today at the Central Military Command in Tigray, is ready to be deployed without delay.

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

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

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

But the rebels had managed to retake most of Tigray by June 2021, before the fighting erupted. x27; lead to a dead end.

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