Cautious hope for Ethiopia deal to silence the guns

Cautious hope for Ethiopia deal to silence the guns

Ethiopian government representative Redwan Hussein (left) and Tigrayan delegation leader Getachew Reda seal the deal in Pretoria
Ethiopian government representative Redwan Hussein (left) and Tigrayan delegation leader Getachew Reda seal the deal in Pretoria. Photo: PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP
Source: AFP

PAY ATTENTION: Сheck out news that is picked exactly for YOU ➡️ find “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!

World leaders and ordinary Ethiopians voiced cautious hope that a breakthrough deal between Ethiopia's government and Tigrayan rebels could signal a permanent end to the brutal conflict in Africa's second most populous country.

The agreement, unveiled Wednesday after little over a week of negotiations, is seen as a crucial first step towards ending the bloodshed but many questions remain about its implementation.

It was sealed almost two years to the day since the war erupted on November 4, 2020 between federal forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and followed a surge in fierce combat from late August that had alarmed the international community.

The two sides agreed to "silence their guns" in a conflict that has seen many thousands of people killed and millions forced from their homes, with reports of atrocities including massacres and rape committed by all parties.

Read also

Ethiopia fractured and fragile after two years of war

Speaking to a crowd of supporters in southern Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Thursday the government had scored a victory in the deal that was brokered by the African Union in Pretoria.

"In the South Africa negotiations, 100 percent of the ideas Ethiopia has proposed have been accepted," he said.

PAY ATTENTION: Follow us on Instagram - get the most important news directly in your favourite app!

According to a joint statement signed by both parties, the agreement includes provisions for the disarmament of TPLF fighters and a public "commitment to safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia" -- a key demand by the government.

The fighting has prevented desperately needed aid from reaching Tigray
The fighting has prevented desperately needed aid from reaching Tigray. Photo: EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP/File
Source: AFP

It also provides for the restoration of services to war-stricken Tigray and unhindered access to humanitarian supplies.

But details regarding its implementation remain vague, and no mention was made of Abiy's ally Eritrea, a major player in the conflict, despite international calls for Asmara to withdraw its forces from Tigray.

Read also

Ethiopia warring parties agree to truce deal

While hailing the agreement as a "new dawn" for Ethiopia and the volatile Horn of Africa region, AU mediator Olusegun Obasanjo had cautioned Wednesday: "This moment is not the end of the peace process but the beginning of it."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described it as a "momentous step" while UN chief Antonio Guterres voiced hope it "can start to bring some solace to the millions of Ethiopian civilians that have really suffered during this conflict".

The European Union encouraged further talks to achieve a permanent ceasefire agreement and said "swift implementation" on the ground was needed including the resumption of humanitarian access and restoration of basic services.

'No other option but peace'

The agreement was greeted cautiously on the streets of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

"If the truce were done earlier, it would have been better. Many people wouldn't have been killed (and) displaced," businessman Million Tadesse told AFP.

Read also

Ethiopia rivals still talking peace in South Africa

Map of the Tigray region and neighbouring Afar and Amhara in Ethiopia
Map of the Tigray region and neighbouring Afar and Amhara in Ethiopia. Photo: Sophie RAMIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Banker Degsew Assefa also welcomed the agreement, but said it needed to "be carefully implemented so we don't relapse back to war".

"There is no other option than peace," he said.

Abiy -- who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his rapprochement with Eritrea -- sent troops into Tigray to topple the TPLF after accusing the group of launching attacks on federal army camps.

It followed seething tensions between Abiy and the TPLF, which had dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades until his election in 2018.

The war's toll is unknown, but the US has estimated that as many as half a million people have died in the conflict.

The fighting has triggered a severe humanitarian crisis and caused large-scale displacement in Tigray as well as in the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar.

Tigray has faced severe shortages of food and medicines and limited access to electricity, banking and communications, with UN warnings that hundreds of thousands of people were on the brink of famine.

Read also

Ethiopia peace talks ongoing in South Africa

UN investigators have accused Abiy's government of crimes against humanity in Tigray, including the use of starvation as a weapon -- claims rejected by the authorities.

Amnesty International said Wednesday's deal was a step in the right direction, but called for further action to address the "unspeakable abuses" committed during the conflict.

"At present, the accord fails to offer a clear roadmap on how to ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and overlooks rampant impunity in the country, which could lead to violations being repeated," it said in a statement.

New feature: Сheck out news that is picked for YOU ➡️ find “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!

Source: AFP

AFP avatar

AFP AFP text, photo, graphic, audio or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. AFP news material may not be stored in whole or in part in a computer or otherwise except for personal and non-commercial use. AFP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions in any AFP news material or in transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages whatsoever. As a newswire service, AFP does not obtain releases from subjects, individuals, groups or entities contained in its photographs, videos, graphics or quoted in its texts. Further, no clearance is obtained from the owners of any trademarks or copyrighted materials whose marks and materials are included in AFP material. Therefore you will be solely responsible for obtaining any and all necessary releases from whatever individuals and/or entities necessary for any uses of AFP material.