Ethiopian combatants agree to a cessation of hostilities

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By Creative Media News

After two years of horrific violence that cost thousands of lives and left millions in need of aid in Africa’s second-most populous nation, the warring parties in Ethiopia announced on Wednesday a deal to silence their weapons.

Ethiopian combatants agree to a cessation of hostilities
Ethiopian combatants agree to a cessation of hostilities

The agreement between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Tigrayan rebels was announced after a little more than a week of discussions headed by the African Union in South Africa and was lauded by the United Nations and the United States, among others.

After protracted negotiations, the government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced in a joint statement, “We have agreed to permanently silence the guns and end the two-year struggle in northern Ethiopia.”

The mediator for the African Union, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, proclaimed the settlement almost two years to the day after the war broke out in November 2020.

“Today marks the beginning of a new dawn for Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, and all of Africa,” he stated.

Parties agree to cease hostilities
Ethiopian combatants agree to a cessation of hostilities

“The two parties in the Ethiopian dispute have formally agreed to a suspension of hostilities and a systematic, orderly, smooth, and coordinated disarmament,” Obasanjo stated in a Pretoria press conference.

In addition, they agreed on the “establishment of law and order, restoration of services, unimpeded access to humanitarian supplies, and protection of people,” he added.

Obasanjo made no mention of international and rebel requests for Eritrea’s dreaded army to withdraw from the battlefield. It was not immediately clear how the agreement would be monitored to ensure its implementation.

“Welcome initial step”

Diplomatic efforts to get Abiy’s administration and the TPLF to the bargaining table assumed a greater sense of urgency with the resumption of hostilities in late August, which scuttled a five-month ceasefire that had enabled limited aid into war-ravaged Tigray.

The negotiations began on Tuesday of last week and were originally expected to conclude on Sunday, but were extended.

It was the first formal meeting between the two parties since the beginning of the conflict, which has raised fears for the stability of Ethiopia and the dangerous Horn of Africa region.

Obasanjo’s announcement was greeted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a “positive first move” that could “provide some relief” to millions of suffering people, according to his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price expressed hope that it would lead to a “durable stop of hostilities to pave the way for an end to human rights violations and atrocities.”

The delegates in Pretoria stated that it is now the responsibility of both parties to uphold the accord, and Abiy pledged a “strong” commitment to its execution.

The head of the government team, Abiy’s national security adviser Redwan Hussein, lauded the parties for their “constructive engagement” to end the unfortunate period of conflict.

Getachew Reda, head of the Tigrayan delegation, stated that they were prepared to “implement and expedite this agreement” and added, “To alleviate the suffering of our people, we have made compromises to create trust.”

Critical shortages

According to US estimates, the war has displaced well over two million people and killed as many as half a million.

In Tigray, government soldiers supported by the Eritrean army and regional forces unleashed artillery bombardments and air attacks, taking a string of towns from the rebels, notwithstanding the peace process in Pretoria.

The international world had expressed growing anxiety over the fighting and innocent casualties trapped in the crossfire.

When asked about Eritrea, South Africa’s former vice president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was coordinating the negotiations, replied, “These two parties (Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan authorities) are not the only relevant ones for peace to occur in Ethiopia.

“Therefore, we are entrusting them with the duty of returning home to socialize this agreement… to guarantee that a greater number of people embrace our accord.”

Tigray, an area of six million people, has been cut off from the rest of the world for the duration of the conflict, lacking essential amenities and experiencing severe food, fuel, and medicine shortages.

The crisis erupted on November 4, 2020, when Abiy, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, moved troops into Tigray after accusing the regional ruling party, the TPLF, of attacking federal army facilities.

The fighting followed months of simmering tensions between Abiy and the TPLF, which had dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition for nearly three decades before his 2018 ascension to office.

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