Ethiopia and Tigray: AU mediation in the offing

Ethiopia and Tigray: AU mediation in the offing

Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is now open to peace talks with Ethiopia through the channels of the African Union (AU). Mediators from the AU must be “mutually acceptable” to the TPLF and Ethiopia – according to Tigrayan forces. 

Ethiopia is beset by other ethnic and political tensions – in other parts of the country. Some of these problems also have religious connotations. Therefore, given the high loss of life, vast numbers of people displaced, economic convulsions, and other negatives: these factors will hopefully enable the central government of Ethiopia and the TPLF to seek a solution where both sides make compromises. 

France 24 reports, “Taye Dendea, Ethiopia’s state minister for peace, described the TPLF announcement as a “nice development” on Twitter but insisted the “so-called TDF (Tigray Defence Forces) must be disarmed before peace talks start. Clear stand!”

Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of the TPLF, wants “unfettered humanitarian access and the functioning of essential services (banking, electricity, and so on). The TPLF leader also wants Eritrean forces to leave Ethiopia. 

A statement from the TPLF said, “We are ready to abide by an immediate and mutually agreed cessation of hostilities.”

Reuters reports, “Tigrayan forces have been at war with the Ethiopian federal government since November 2020. The Tigrayan forces have accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of centralizing power at the expense of Ethiopia’s regions, which Abiy has denied.”

Last month, Selamawit Kassa, a spokesperson for the government of Ethiopia, told Voice of America that “The federal government has full confidence in the African Union and its high commissioner assigned to cover the peace talks. There is no plausible reason for Ethiopia to look for other entities to broker the peace efforts.”

Hopefully, the parties to the conflict will enter negotiations in good faith. Ethiopia needs peace in Tigray and other parts of the country blighted by ethnic and political tensions.

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