The warring parties therefore also agreed to “systematic and coordinated disarmament”. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs the Ethiopian region, spoke of a “new beginning” and said it had made “concessions” in the peace talks.
On camera, the warring parties signed a corresponding agreement on Wednesday. A joint statement read: “After ten days of intense negotiations (we) have concluded a peace agreement.” Details on what the political solution is based on were not available on Wednesday.
“New Era in Ethiopia”
“Both parties formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities and … to disarmament,” said African Union mediator, former Nigerian President Obasanjo. Part of the deal is an agreement to restore law, order and public services and allow access to relief supplies, Obasanjo said.
Now a new era is beginning in Ethiopia. The agreement signed by both sides in the civil war will start the peace process. This will allow a return to law and order and pave the way for humanitarian aid. The Ethiopian government representative demanded that everyone now adhere to the spirit of the agreement. A spokesman for the Tigray province rebels assured them that they were ready to walk the path of peace.
With the agreement, a first obstacle was overcome. Now, the speedy implementation of the agreement in all its aspects is “of crucial importance”, Obasanjo said. “This moment is not the end of the process, but the beginning of it.”
Portal/Tiksa Negeri Tank destroyed after fighting in the city of Kasagita, Ethiopia
Years of struggle for supremacy
Peace talks began about a week ago in South Africa. Major African states such as the US and the European Union have called for a ceasefire and the start of negotiations to prevent further civilian suffering. The warring parties had been negotiating behind closed doors for more than a week. In fact, conversations should only last a few days.
The fighting that erupted in November 2020 stems from longstanding rivalries between regional powers vying for supremacy in Ethiopia. The Tigray conflict began with an offensive by Ethiopian forces after the TPLF repeatedly challenged the authority of the central government.
TPLF rebels accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of centralizing power at the expense of Ethiopia’s regions. Abiy denied this and in return accused the TPLF of wanting to regain power in the country. The TPLF was the dominant force in the state until Abiy was elected prime minister in 2018.
Drastic humanitarian crisis triggered
The fighting triggered a drastic humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. At least two million people were displaced. Human rights organizations complain that serious war crimes and ethnic cleansing took place on both sides.
AP/Ben Curtis Women roasts coffee beans in the classroom at a school that serves as their makeshift home
According to the International Crisis Group (ICG) research institute, the conflict is “one of the deadliest in the world”. According to the ICG, tens of thousands of people have been killed in just the past two months. US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield had warned shortly before the start of peace talks that the “situation in the country was getting out of control”.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 5.2 million of Tigray’s more than seven million people depend on humanitarian aid. According to a US estimate, around half a million people have died in the conflict, and there is famine in parts of Tigray. Meanwhile, a five-month ceasefire had fueled hopes of a negotiated solution, but fighting erupted again in late August.
Ceasefire agreed in Ethiopia
After two years of bloody war, there is cautious hope: according to the African Union (AU), the parties to Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict have agreed to a ceasefire. Both sides agreed to a “cessation of hostilities”, AU mediator Olusegun Obasanjo said after days of peace talks in South Africa. The fighting displaced millions, killed thousands, and plunged parts of Tigray into starvation.
Peace remains fragile
Therefore, it is questionable whether the ceasefire will hold this time. Even the mediators on Wednesday emphasized how fragile the situation was. “Unless they are resolved through dialogue, the underlying causes of conflict will invariably remain,” warned South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor. Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed that the implementation of the agreements will be closely monitored by the AU.
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric expressed cautious hope after the agreement was signed: It was “a very welcome first step that we hope will bring some comfort to the millions of Ethiopian civilians who have really suffered during this conflict”.