Ethiopia warring parties agree to cease hostilities

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The warring sides in Ethiopia announced on Wednesday an agreement to silence their guns after two years of devastating conflict that have claimed thousands of lives and left millions needing aid in Africa’s second most populous country.

The surprise deal between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and Tigrayan rebels was unveiled after little over a week of negotiations led by the African Union in South Africa and was hailed by the UN and the US among others.

“We have agreed to permanently silence the guns and end the two years of conflict in northern Ethiopia,” the government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said in a joint statement after marathon talks.

The breakthrough was announced by the African Union’s mediator, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, almost exactly two years to the day since the war erupted in November 2020.

“Today is the beginning of a new dawn for Ethiopia, for the Horn of Africa and indeed for Africa as a whole,” he said.

“The two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as the systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament,” Obasanjo said at a briefing in Pretoria.

They also agreed on a “restoration of law and order, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians … among other areas of agreement”, he added.

It was not immediately clear how the deal would be monitored to ensure it was implemented, and there was no mention by Obasanjo of international and rebel calls for Eritrea’s feared army to withdraw from the battlefield.

Diplomatic efforts to bring Abiy’s government and the TPLF to the negotiating table had taken on renewed urgency after combat resumed in late August, torpedoing a five-month truce that had allowed limited amounts of aid into war-stricken Tigray.

The talks were launched on Tuesday last week and were initially scheduled to run until Sunday but were extended.

They were the first formal dialogue between the two sides since the start of the conflict that had raised concerns about the stability of Ethiopia and the volatile Horn of Africa region.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres hailed Obasanjo’s announcement as “a welcome first step” that could “bring some solace” to millions of suffering civilians, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.—AFP

 

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