- The two-year war has killed thousands and displaced millions.
- The government of Ethiopia and the forces of Tigray agreed to a peace agreement
- There will be only one week of talks in South Africa
- The path to a comprehensive peace agreement will be difficult – analyst
Pretoria November 2/2011 The Ethiopian government and the forces of the Tigray region agreed on Wednesday to end the war; This remarkable diplomatic breakthrough was followed by a two-year war that killed thousands, displaced millions and starved hundreds of thousands.
A week after the start of formal peace talks brokered by the African Union in the South African capital of Pretoria, delegates from both sides signed an agreement to “end the war permanently”.
Olusein Obasanjo, head of the African Union mediation team, said at the ceremony, “The two sides in the conflict in Ethiopia have officially agreed to stop the war and to achieve systematic, orderly, soft and coordinated disarmament.”
Former Nigerian President Obasanjo said the agreement included “restoration of law and order, restoration of services, uninterrupted access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians”.
A deal was not expected anytime soon. Earlier on Wednesday, the African Union had invited the media to a briefing by Obasanjo. It was known that the truce was about to be signed when the event started three hours later than scheduled.
“This time is not the end of the peace process. The implementation of the peace agreement signed today is critical to its success,” Obasanjo said.
In the year Obasanjo, who resigned as Nigeria’s president in 2007 and has been dealing with conflicts across Africa, hailed the process as an African solution to Africa’s problems.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his appreciation to Obasanjo and other mediators for the conclusion of the peace talks and said that the government’s determination to implement the agreement is strong.
“Our commitment to peace remains strong. Equally strong is our commitment to cooperation in the implementation of the agreement,” the statement said on Twitter.
‘Major concessions from both sides’
At the ceremony in Pretoria, the spokesman of the Tigray authorities, Mr. Getachew Reda, spoke about the widespread death and destruction in the region and expressed his hope and hope that both sides would honor their promises.
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre said the United States is committed to supporting the African-led Ethiopian peace process.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ peace deal is a good first step in providing comfort to the millions of civilians who have suffered in the conflict, a UN spokesman said.
Alan Boswell, director of the Horn of Africa project at the International Crisis Group, said the first big challenge was whether the warring parties would be able to immediately end the fighting as agreed.
“This is a major achievement involving great agreement from both sides, although the parties have raised serious issues for future peace talks,” he said.
If they stop fighting, today will be the start of a very bumpy, long and difficult peace process.
Soldiers bordering Tigray, a separate country from Eritrea, as well as forces from other regions of Ethiopia took part in the conflict on the side of the Ethiopian army.
Neither Eritrea nor the regional powers participated in the negotiations held in South Africa, and there was no indication of compliance with the peace accord at Wednesday’s ceremony.
“I am very happy because this will end the suffering,” said a native of Tigray who lives in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, who did not want to be identified for fear of harm at work.
We still have questions about the agreement… We haven’t heard anything about Eritrea. I hope it will be detailed.
Deep political tension
The war was led by the People’s Liberation Army of Tigray (TPLF), a guerrilla group that has turned Ethiopia into a political organization that has been in power for 27 years.
In the year Tensions escalated in 2018-20, Abiy’s peace deal with Eritrea, a sworn enemy of the HH, and the HH held regional elections that extended Tigray across the country in opposition to him, leading the parties to war.
Wednesday’s agreement does not address the deep political tensions that contributed to the conflict.
In a statement, the African Union stated that it is ready to continue Ethiopia’s peace process “towards a democratic, just and inclusive Ethiopia where youth, women and men participate fully and peacefully”.
“The only lasting solution can be dialogue,” said former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who co-hosted the talks.
The HH has accused Abiy of centralizing power at the expense of the regions and oppressing the people of Tigray, which he has denied.
The United Nations says the war has put Tigray under siege for nearly two years, and humanitarian supplies of food and medicine have often failed to get through.
Some aid supplies reached Tigray during a temporary ceasefire between March and August this year, but fighting resumed in August and the World Health Organization said last week that Tigray had run out of vaccines, antibiotics and insulin.
He said health facilities are starting to use saline solutions and cloths to treat and dress wounds.
The government says it has repeatedly denied aid and is distributing food and restoring electricity and other services in controlled areas.
Human rights abuses, extrajudicial killings, rape, robbery and forced displacement of people by all parties to the war have been documented by UN bodies, the Ethiopian government-appointed human rights commission, independent aid organizations and the media, including Reuters.
All parties have denied the allegations.
Reporting by Alexander Winning and Tim Cox; Additional reporting by Ainat Mercy in Nairobi, Michelle Nichols in New York, Jeff Mason and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington; Writing by Estelle Shirbon; Edited by James Macharia Chege, William McLean
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.