Tigray rebels agreed on Sunday (September 11th) to take part in future peace talks with the government of Abiy Ahmed under the aegis of the African Union. In the same press release, they also committed to an immediate and mutual cessation of fighting in order to create “a favorable atmosphere” for discussions. Ethiopian Minister of State for Peace Taye Dendea called the announcement a “positive development” while insisting on the need to disarm the rebels before negotiations.
For the African Union, this is a “unique opportunity” to end the war that is ravaging northern Ethiopia.
The People’s Front for the Liberation of Tigray had rejected previous mediation by the African Union, believing that its envoy, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, was too close to the Ethiopian Prime Minister.
After five months of humanitarian truce, hostilities resumed on August 24th. This fratricidal war in Tigray, a region adjoining the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, will enter its second year in November.
In a letter to the UN Secretary General in early September, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael called for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from all of Ethiopia and Tigray. His movement accuses Ethiopia and Eritrea of having launched a “joint” offensive on Tigray. Debretsion Gebremichael also said people in the area were suffering from food shortages, lack of electricity, communications and banking services.