February 2, 2023
Ethiopian government representative Redwan Hussien, former Nigerian president and African Union envoy Olesegun Obasanjo, Tigray delegate Getachew Reda and South Africa's former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka pose for a photograph after signing of the AU-led negotiations to resolve the conflict in northern Ethiopia, in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2, 2022. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

African Solution

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Cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia begins with signing a peace agreement in South Africa

The Ethiopian government and regional forces from Tigray agreed on Wednesday to cease hostilities, a dramatic diplomatic breakthrough two years into a war that has killed thousands, displaced millions and left hundreds of thousands facing famine.

Just over a week after formal peace talks mediated by the African Union (AU) began in the South African capital Pretoria, delegates from both sides signed an agreement on a “permanent cessation of hostilities”.

“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,” said Olusegun Obasanjo, head of the AU mediation team, at a ceremony.

Sign.Ethiopian government representative Redwan Hussien and Tigray delegate Getachew Reda attend signing of the AU-led negotiations to resolve the conflict in northern Ethiopia, in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2, 2022. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Obasanjo, a former Nigerian president, said the agreement also included “restoration of law and order, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians”.

An agreement had not been expected so soon. Earlier on Wednesday, the AU had invited media to what it described as a briefing by Obasanjo. It was only when the event began, about three hours behind schedule, that it became clear a truce was about to be signed.

“This moment is not the end of the peace process. Implementation of the peace agreement signed today is critical for its success,” said Obasanjo, adding that this would be supervised and monitored by a high-level AU panel.

Obasanjo, who stepped down as Nigeria’s president in 2007 and has since mediated conflicts across Africa, praised the process as an African solution to an African problem.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed gratitude to Obasanjo and other mediators on the conclusion of the peace talks, saying in a statement the government’s commitment to the implementation of the agreement was strong.

“Our commitment to peace remains steadfast. And our commitment to collaborating for the implementation of the agreement is equally strong,” the statement on Twitter said.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed gratitude to Obasanjo and other mediators on the conclusion of the peace talks, saying in a statement the government’s commitment to the implementation of the agreement was strong.

“Our commitment to peace remains steadfast. And our commitment to collaborating for the implementation of the agreement is equally strong,” the statement on Twitter said.

The war stems from a catastrophic breakdown in relations between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a guerrilla movement turned political party which dominated Ethiopia for 27 years, and Abiy, who was once part of their ruling coalition but whose appointment in 2018 ended the TPLF’s dominance.

Escalating tensions in 2018-20, including over Abiy’s peace deal with the TPLF’s sworn enemy Eritrea, and the TPLF’s decision to defy him by holding regional elections in Tigray that he had postponed nationwide, tipped the parties into war.

Source Reuters

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