Ethiopian government, TPLF rebels sign cease-fire deal
Peace talks between Ethiopia's government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels on Wednesday bore fruits as the two warring sides agreed to a new cease-fire deal.
The African Union brokered truce is a diplomatic breakthrough ending a two-year war that has killed thousands of people.
Announcing the development, Olusegun Obasanjo, the high representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission, said: “Today is the beginning of a new dawn for Ethiopia, for the Horn of Africa and indeed for Africa as a whole. Let me hasten to thank God for this new dawn.”
He added that “we are seeing in practice and actualization what we have tried to achieve for ourselves over the years – African solutions for African problems. We also see in today’s peace agreement signing exercise the implementation of Agenda 2063 which embodies silencing the guns in Africa.”
Assurance for all
Obasanjo, who is a former Nigerian president, added that the two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth, and coordinated disarmament, restoration of law and order, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies and protection of civilians especially women, children, and other vulnerable groups.
The agreement also takes care of assurance of security for all concerned within and outside Ethiopia.
“The devil will be in the implementation,” said former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who helped facilitate the talks. An African Union panel with representatives from both sides and Africa experts will monitor the process.
In a statement, Kenyan President William Ruto commended the parties to the Ethiopia peace process for signing the peace agreement.
"The commitment demonstrated by the two parties to the African Union-led peace process aligns with our collective desire for peace and security within our region," Ruto said.
In a statement issued by his Spokesperson, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the peace deal represents “a critical first step” towards ending the brutal two-year war. Guterres noted that the Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities brokered by the African Union and mediated by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, was a promising start to finally stopping the fighting which erupted in November 2020 after months of tension, and which has destroyed so many lives and livelihoods.
Mr. Guterres commended the AU and its High-Level Panel for the facilitation of the peace talks and South Africa, for its key role hosting the peace talks.
“The United Nations stands ready to assist the next steps of the African Union-led process and will continue to mobilize much-needed assistance to alleviate suffering in the affected areas”, the statement concluded.
In a report released on Oct. 29, the UN said that 2.75 million people in Ethiopia are internally displaced and 12.5 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance.
There are around 5.2 million in need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray, including 3.8 million who need healthcare, said the UN World Health Organization last Friday, and it has been two months since the last humanitarian aid reached the region.
Earlier in the day, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
said large numbers of displaced were arriving in, or moving towards Tigray’s
regional capital, with needs rising by the day.
There has been intense fighting in the northern Ethiopian region since a months-long truce was shattered in late August, with reports of mass casualties and other rights violations.
A report released by UN rights experts last month accused both sides of committing abuses that border on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The war began almost two years ago to the day - 4 November 2020 - when forces loyal to the TPLF, the party in power in Tigray, seized a military barracks, prompting the Ethiopian army to seize the region, before later being pushed out of most of it.
This followed a breakdown in relations between the government and the TPLF, which had dominated the whole of Ethiopia for two decades until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018.