September 11, 2022 (GMN) - Ethiopia’s Tigray rebels say they are ready to take part in peace talks led by the African Union (AU), removing an obstacle to potential negotiations with the government to end almost two years of fighting.
The announcement was made amid a flurry of international diplomacy after fighting flared last month for the first time in months in northern Ethiopia, torpedoing a humanitarian truce.
“The government of Tigray is prepared to participate in a robust peace process under the auspices of the African Union,” said a statement by the authorities in the northernmost region of Tigray.
“Furthermore we are ready to abide by an immediate and mutually agreed cessation of hostilities in order to create a conducive atmosphere.”
There was no immediate comment from the Ethiopian government, which has long insisted that any peace process must be brokered by the Addis Ababa-headquartered AU.
But the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had until now vehemently opposed the role of the AU’s Horn of Africa envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, protesting at his “proximity” to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Sunday’s statement, which coincided with Ethiopia’s new year, made no mention of any preconditions for talks, although it said it expected a “credible” peace process with “mutually acceptable” mediators as well as international observers.
TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael had earlier this month proposed a truce with four conditions including “unfettered humanitarian access” and the restoration of essential services in war-stricken Tigray.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he had also called for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from across Ethiopia, and for troops to pull out of western Tigray, a disputed region claimed by both Tigrayans and Amharas, the country’s second-largest ethnic group. Source: AFP