Tigray rebels are ready for AU-mediated talks

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As fighting against Ethiopian government forces resumed last month, Tigray rebels said they were ready Sunday to accept African Union mediation, which greeted “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

Ethiopian rebels in Tigray announced on Sunday (11 September) that they are ready to participate in peace talks under the auspices of the African Union (AU), aimed at ending nearly two years of armed conflict in this region of Ethiopia. northern.

“The government of Tigray is ready to participate in a solid peace process under the auspices of the African Union”, reads a statement by the authorities of the rebel region. “Furthermore, we are ready to respect an immediate and agreed cessation of hostilities, in order to create a favorable atmosphere,” they added.

The move comes as diplomatic efforts intensify to find a peaceful solution to the conflict after renewed fighting last month broke a truce established in March.

The Ethiopian government has long insisted that any peace process must be negotiated under the auspices of the AU, which is based in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. But the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had until then always rejected the mediation of the AU special envoy to the Horn of Africa, the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, denouncing his “closeness” to the former. Ethiopian minister Abiy Ahmed.

“Positive development”

African Union (AU) Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat hailed “a unique opportunity” to end nearly two years of war and called on “both sides to work urgently to establish a ceasefire, to commit in direct negotiations, as part of a process under the auspices of the AU, including agreed international partners “.

The Ethiopian Minister of State for Peace, Taye Dendea, on Twitter called the TPLF announcement a “positive development”, insisting that “the so-called TDF (Tigray Defense Forces) must be disarmed before the start of the talks. peace. Clear position! “.

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

Earlier this month, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael offered a conditional truce by providing “unhindered 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 over Ethiopia and Tigray.

Sunday’s statement said that a negotiating team that includes Getachew Reda, the TPLF spokesman, and General Tsadkan Gebretensae, former chief of staff of the Ethiopian army now in the central military command of Tigray, is “ready to be deployed without procrastination”.

With AFP

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