Ethiopian government reaches deal with rebels to permanently end Ethiopia’s civil war

Ethiopian government reaches deal with rebels to permanently end Ethiopia’s civil war
Olusegun Obasanjo

“Ethiopia’s warring sides agreed Wednesday to a permanent cessation of hostilities in a 2-year conflict whose victims could be counted in the hundreds of thousands, but enormous challenges lie ahead, including getting all parties to lay down arms or withdraw,” reports the Associated Press.

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo said Ethiopia’s government and authorities in rebellious Tigray province agreed on “orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament.” Other key points included restoration of services to the long cut-off Tigray region and “unhindered access to humanitarian supplies.” He said this in a briefing on the peace talks that have been held in South Africa,

“The level of destruction is immense,” the lead negotiator for Ethiopia’s government, Redwan Hussein, said. Lead Tigray negotiator Getachew Reda expressed a similar sentiment and noted that “painful concessions” had been made. They then shook hands.

The AP notes that the “full text of the agreement, including details on the disarmament and reintegration of Tigray forces, was not immediately available.” “The devil will be in the implementation,” said former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who helped facilitate the talks.

As the AP notes,

Major questions remain. Eritrea, which has fought alongside neighboring Ethiopia, was notably not part of the peace talks. It’s not immediately clear to what extent its deeply repressive government, which has long considered Tigray authorities a threat, will respect the agreement. Eritrea’s information minister didn’t reply to questions.

Eritrean forces have been blamed for some of the conflict’s worst abuses, including gang-rapes, and witnesses have described killings and lootings by Eritrean forces even during the peace talks. On Wednesday, a humanitarian source said several women in the town of Adwa reported being raped by Eritrean soldiers, and some were badly wounded. The source, like many on the situation inside Tigray, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Forces from Ethiopia’s neighboring Amhara region also have been fighting Tigray ones, but Amhara representatives are not part of the peace talks. “Amharas cannot be expected to abide by any outcome of a negotiations process from which they think they are excluded,” said Tewodrose Tirfe, chairman of the Amhara Association of America.

Another critical question is how soon aid can return to Tigray, whose communications and transport links have been largely severed since the conflict began. Doctors have described running out of basic medicines like vaccines, insulin and therapeutic food while people die of easily preventable diseases and starvation. United Nations human rights investigators have said the Ethiopian government was using “starvation of civilians” as a weapon of war.

“We’re back to 18th century surgery,” a surgeon at the region’s flagship hospital, Fasika Amdeslasie, told health experts at an online event Wednesday. “It’s like an open-air prison.”

A humanitarian source said their organization could resume operations almost immediately if unfettered aid access to Tigray is granted. “It entirely depends on what the government agrees to … If they genuinely give us access, we can start moving very quickly, in hours, not weeks,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The civil war began in November 2020, a year after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was given a Nobel Peace Prize for making peace with the small neighboring nation of Eritrea, which borders the Tigray region and is ruled by an oppressive control-freak. Abiy’s government later declared the Tigray province’s leadership, who ruled Ethiopia for nearly three decades before Abiy took office, a terrorist group. Abiy Ahmed is descended from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, who were long frozen out of power under Ethiopian governments dominated by the Amhara or Tigrayans.

The brutal civil war, which spread to the neighboring Amhara and Afar provinces as Tigray forces unsuccessfully tried to take the capital, began again in August in Tigray after months of cease fire that permitted thousands of truck-loads of aid to reach starving Tigrayans. Health workers described over 100 civilians killed by drone strikes and airstrikes, and around 300 injured, between Sept. 27 and Oct. 10 alone.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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