African Union’s special envoy to the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo says Ethiopia’s conflict that has lasted more than a year represents failed politics in the country.
A week after his first shuttle diplomacy between the warring parties, Obasanjo who is the High Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson, says he is still working on seeing parties begin dialogue and save the country from further losses.
“I am optimistic that common ground towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict can be secured,” he said in a statement on Sunday on the ‘prospects’ for peace in Ethiopia. Everyone he talked to, he says, wants peace but the warring parties have not agreed on how, which may be the reason further violence has continued in spite of calls to ceasefire.
“War represents a failure of politics. Thus dialogue remains the only reliable and sustainable avenue to peace. There is no military solution to the conflict and battlefield victory cannot guarantee political stability in Ethiopia.”
The Ethiopian government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allied fighters since November 04 last year when he declared a ‘law enforcement operation in Tigray to flush out the TPLF. Once a ruling party, the TPLF is now considered in Addis Ababa as a terrorist group.
On Saturday, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said the biggest threat to Ethiopian peace and security was the TPLF which it says must be totally eliminated.
“The real and present threat to peace in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region is the continued belligerence and aggression of the TPLF,” Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday after the US government sanctioned the Eritrean military and ruling party for taking sides in the Tigray conflict.
“We reiterate that the international community’s reluctance to strongly condemn the destabilising roles of the TPLF has emboldened the terrorist group.”
The TPLF, on the other hand, has since expanded alliances with the Oromo Liberation Army, who are equally opposed to Prime Minister Aby’s government. In meetings with Obasanjo, they asked to have unfettered supply corridors for aid for them to agree on a ceasefire.
Mr Obasanjo gave no timelines but said only dialogue will enable Ethiopia to emerge from the deadly war.
The former Nigerian President spoke ahead of the trip by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday to Nairobi in a meeting whose agenda will include the security situation in the Horn of Africa. Blinken, who will also visit Nigeria and Senegal, has said the US supports Africa-led solution to the Ethiopian crisis, especially through President Obasanjo’s mediation. However, Washington has said it will not remove the sanctions threat from the table yet to punish violators.
Originally seen as an internal conflict, Tigray situation has now become a regional matter as thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands of others displaced and the conflict expanded to neighbouring Amhara, Oromia and Afar regions of Ethiopia.
On Sunday, Djiboutian Foreign Mahmoud Ali Youssouf dismissed fears his country, which hosts several foreign military bases, could become entangled in the conflict by supporting warring parties.
“Some (people have) expressed the concern about Djibouti’s territory being used for hostile intervention in the neighbouring countries. That is not going to happen for The Djiboutian Government is attached to its relations with its neighbours,” he tweeted on Sunday.
“The Djibouti government remains committed to the good neighbourhood relations and follows with particular attention the overall situation unfolding in the sisterly country of Ethiopia,” he had said earlier in the week.