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African state to address ‘urgent’ issues with peace agreement

The African Union says the Ethiopian ceasefire deal signed in 2022 requires immediate attention

The Ethiopian government and authorities in the northern Tigray region have held talks to review and resolve issues surrounding the implementation of a peace agreement signed almost two years ago to end a brutal civil war.

The African Union-mediated talks on Monday also involved the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – formerly the East African nation’s dominant political party – and observers from the UN, US, and EU.

Addis Ababa and the TPLF signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA), commonly known as the Pretoria Agreement, in the South African capital in November 2022 after two years of fighting. The intense war that erupted in 2020 due to political tensions was named the world’s deadliest conflict in 2022 by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), with well over 100,000 people killed.

The TPLF agreed to disarm, demobilize, and hand over heavy weapons to the national army as part of the deal, while the federal government was tasked with withdrawing foreign forces, increasing humanitarian assistance, and funding reconstruction in war-ravaged areas.

In a statement on Monday, AU Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat said despite “undeniable achievements” in ensuring long-term peace, challenges including “disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration” require “urgent attention.” 

The AU Political Affairs, Peace, and Security department announced in a separate statement that the rival parties have recommitted to fulfilling the Pretoria Agreement and have agreed to hold consultations aimed at promoting stability in Tigray.

“They also decided to consult regularly and to convene in a similar format within the next few months. The parties acknowledged the progress made and identified areas requiring additional joint efforts towards fully implementing the COHA,” it stated.

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FILE PHOTO. Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) soldiers train in the field of Dabat, Ethiopia.
Ethiopia resumes peace talks to end regional conflict

Allegations of abuse have persisted since the formal cessation of hostilities in Tigray. Last October, a UN human rights panel reported that Eritrean forces aligned with Ethiopia’s military were still committing acts of violence against women, including rape and sexual slavery. Tigray’s leaders have also accused Addis Ababa of violating the Pretoria accord and failing to implement key provisions.

Last August, Ethiopian Defense Minister Abraham Belay stated that the government was addressing “neglected” issues that were causing “serious harm” to citizens. He announced plans for a referendum to ensure that territorial disputes in the Tigray and Amhara regions are settled in accordance with constitutional law and the Pretoria peace deal.

March 12, 2024 at 03:04PM

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