Ethiopian rival parties sign peace agreement 


Redwan Hussien Rameto (left)-Representative of the Ethiopian government, and Getachew Reda (right)- Representative of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), sign a peace agreement  during a press conference regarding the African Union-led negotiations to resolve conflict in Ethiopia at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation  offices in Pretoria on November 2, 2022. 

Photo credit: AFP

The Ethiopian government and rival Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), forces who control the northern Tigray region on Wednesday signed a "permanent cessation of hostilities" in a bid to end one of Africa's recent bloodiest civil war.

Per the signed agreement, the warring parties will cease hostilities and "silence guns in principle" in the war-torn Tigray region, and work on ending two-year old war "without delay." 

The signing of the agreements, which came after ten days of intense negotiations, marks an important milestone in the AU-led mediation process that began on Tuesday 25 October in South Africa, in pursuit of a peaceful solution to the two-year long conflict that has gripped the Horn of Africa's nation.

According to AU, the two sides agreed to a disarmament plan as well as unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, resumption of halted basic services to Tigray.

The parties have agreed on "systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians, especially women children and other vulnerable groups," said mediator and former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

The agreement also offers the "assurance of security for all concerned inside and outside Ethiopia."

At the signing ceremony, Tigray's Getachew Reda said "We have now signed an agreement. We will leave the past behind us. Making peace has proved elusive. Hundreds of thousands have died."

"Thousands of combatants and civilians have lost their lives. We will do all in our power to expedite this agreement. We look to our brothers in Addis Ababa to do the same."

Ethiopia Tigray peace accord

Redwan Hussien Rameto (left), Representative of the Ethiopian government, and Getachew Reda, Representative of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), shake hands after a peace agreement between the two parties in Pretoria on November 2, 2022. Looking on is former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Photo credit: Phill Magakoe | AFP

"This war was imposed on us. Now that we are here to sign an agreement. I hope both parties honour this agreement.

"We have made concessions, so that we can build on the trust. Signing is one thing. Implementing is another. We hope the monitoring will be an iron-clad one." He added.

Ambassador Redwan Hussine of Ethiopia: "The level of destruction is massive. We thank our brothers from the other side to put this period behind us. We have started an inclusive dialogue process."

South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor: "We humbly call on both sides to implement this agreement in full. It must lead to an enduring peace. We will support the AU and facilitation team"

IGAD executive secretary Workneh Gebeyeh in a tweet expressed his deep satisfaction at the signing of the Ethiopia peace agreement in Pretoria and congratulated AbiyAhmed Ali's leadership, mediation teams, and the AU for what he said was " a momentous outcome to silence the guns". 

IGAD has also played an active role in the AU-led mediation efforts.

Both parties said that they were committed to implementing a cessation of hostilities effective immediately.

The AU-led peace talks were launched on Tuesday 25 October in South Africa.

It was scheduled to end on Sunday 30 October but has since been extended as parties continued engaging in the talks.  

The US government said on Monday that the extension of the peace talks was an "indication that the parties arrived in South Africa with quite a bit of distance between them, but it's also an indication that the parties continue to be willing to sit down together in  what we hope to be a constructive atmosphere and ultimately an atmosphere when the parties can discuss their differences and continue to narrow the distance between them."

Was Eritrea isolated?

The talks were held without direct participation of Eritrea, a party to Tigray conflict however Asmara was indirectly represented by Ethiopia.

According to some diplomatic sources who spoke to The East African, Eritrean concerns were being discussed at the talks in Pretoria.

But yet, it remains unclear if Eritrea would abide by the agreement reached today.

It is also unclear if Eritrean forces will withdraw from Ethiopia.

As conditions for peace, the Tigray rebels have previously demanded the restoration of basic services such as access to telephone, electricity, internet and banking services to the region, unrestricted aid access, and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces.  

No sign of de-escalatetion 

Despite the peace talks however there is no any sign of de-escalatetion on ground and lots of effort and commitment is needed to implement the agreement 

Since the talks began, fighting has raged in Tigray, where government troops have been advancing since mid-October, supported by the Eritrean army and forces and militias from the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.

The peace talks were facilitated by AU envoy and Nigeria's former president Olusegun Obasanjo and supported by former South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The US government was also activeky supporting the peace process through its Horn of Africa envoy, Mike Hammer, who flew with Tigray's mediators to South Africa in a US military plane.

Since its breakout in November 2020, the conflict has claimed the lives of tens and thousands, uprooted millions and caused a grave humanitarian crisis, subjecting 90 percent of the estimated seven million Tigray population to be aid- dependent, not to mention the destruction of property at alarming proportions.

"As many as half a million" people have been killed in the conflict, according to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who warned the UN Security Council last month of the potential for "mass atrocities" if the fighting continues.