Ethiopia: Tigrayan rebels present in South Africa for peace talks

ÉEthiopia: Tigrayan rebels present in South Africa for talks of peace


The Tigrayan rebels have announced that they have arrived in South Africa, where peace talks with the Ethiopian government are due to begin on Monday to find a peaceful solution to the war that has ravaged northern Ethiopia for two years. . 

The federal government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced last week that it would participate in the talks, which are being held under the aegis of the African Union (AU). . He did not communicate on the arrival of his delegation.

Tigrayan rebels and the federal army – supported by forces from neighboring Ethiopian regions and the army of Eritrea, a country bordering Tigray – have been clashing since November 2020 in a deadly conflict that has plunged northern Ethiopia in a deep humanitarian crisis. 

A spokesperson for the rebel authorities in Tigray, Kindeya Gebrehiwot, announced the arrival of a delegation on Twitter overnight. He also repeated rebel demands for an “immediate cessation of hostilities, unhindered humanitarian access and withdrawal of Eritrean forces”.

Previous talks, convened in early October in South Africa by the AU, had fizzled before they even started, amid organizational problems.

On Thursday, Abiy Ahmed declared that the war was going “end and peace prevail”. “We are not going to continue to fight indefinitely,” he said, without however mentioning the next discussions and while the pro-government forces have recently stepped up their offensive in Tigray.

After a five-month truce, fighting resumed on August 24. Ethiopian and Eritrean forces captured Shire, one of Tigray's main towns, last week.

A humanitarian source told AFP that intense fighting was taking place on Friday in Selekelka, mid -road between Shire and Aksoum, another major city in Tigray and an ancient site listed as a World Heritage Site.

The international community has expressed alarm at the recent intensification of fighting.

< p>Both the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council held meetings Friday on the matter.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price, stressed that these meetings “demonstrate the great concern of the international community” and renewed American calls for a resumption of humanitarian assistance and the withdrawal of Eritrean troops.

The war began in November 2020 when Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to Tigray to dislodge the regional authorities who challenged his authority and whom he accused of having attacked military bases.

The exact toll of this conflict, which is taking place largely behind closed doors, with journalists not having access to the area, is unknown.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield claimed on Friday that “the scale of fighting and death rivals what we see in Ukraine”. According to her, “in two years of conflict up to half a million people died”.