the international community asks to take “the opportunity” for peace

published Monday 12 September 2022 at 1:16 pm

The international community called on Monday to take the “opportunity” for peace in Ethiopia, after the Tigray rebels declared themselves ready to negotiate with the government under the auspices of the African Union to end the war in the north of the country. Village.

Since the start of the conflict in November 2020, numerous diplomatic efforts to bring the rebel authorities of the Tigris and the federal government to the same table have remained in vain. And the resumption of fighting on August 24, after a five-month truce, had further obscured the prospects for a negotiated peace.

But in a statement released on Sunday evening, the Tigray authorities of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said they were ready “to participate in a solid peace process under the auspices of the African Union” (AU).

Until now they had always refused the mediation of the AU special envoy, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, denouncing his “closeness” to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The government, which at the end of July had reiterated that it was ready to discuss “anytime and anywhere” with the mediation of the AU, had not officially reacted on Monday morning.

Beginning Sunday evening, the AU welcomed Tigray’s announcement, hailing “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, as well as the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, called “to seize this opportunity”.

The United States, in a statement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, also called on “the leaders of the country to put Ethiopia on a path that ends suffering and leads to lasting peace”.

“Eritrea and the others must stop escalating the conflict,” added the head of US diplomacy.

– “Credible” process –

The rebels accuse the Ethiopian and Eritrean armies of having launched a joint offensive from Eritrea, a country that borders on northern Tigray and has already given a hand to Ethiopian forces during the first phase of the conflict.

Journalists do not have access to northern Ethiopia and the telecommunications networks operate there in a very casual way, making any independent verification impossible.

In late July, Abiy Ahmed’s national security adviser, Redwan Hussein, said that “the government was ready to discuss anytime, anywhere”, adding that “discussions should start without preconditions”.

In their communiqué, the Tigrian authorities did not mention any preconditions, affirming their desire for a “credible” peace process with “mutually acceptable” mediators and international observers.

“We are ready to respect an immediate and agreed cessation of hostilities, in order to create a favorable atmosphere,” they added.

In a letter four days earlier to Antonio Guterres, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael had offered a conditional truce, asking in particular for “unhindered humanitarian access” and the return of essential services to Tigray, suffering from severe food shortages and deprived of electricity, communications and banking services.

He also called for the departure of the Eritrean forces present on Ethiopian territory and the withdrawal of the Amhara regional forces that have taken position since the end of 2020 in Western Tigray, a region disputed and claimed by Tigray and Amhara – the second ethnolinguistic of the country’s population.

– Disruption of humanitarian aid –

The toll of the deadly conflict in Tigray is unknown. But it caused the displacement of more than two million people and plunged hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians into conditions close to starvation, according to the United Nations.

According to the United Nations, the resumption of fighting has completely disrupted the transport of humanitarian aid by road and air to the Tigray region and its neighbors Amhara and Afar.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia erupted in November 2020, when Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to Tigray to remove dissident authorities from the region, accusing them of attacking military bases.

Initially defeated, the Tigray rebel forces regained control of most of the region in 2021, in a counter-offensive that extended to Amhara and Afar. They then retreated to the Tigray.

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