Ethiopia and Tigray Forces Agree to Truce in Civil War, Mediators Say

Ethiopia and Tigray Forces Agree to Truce in Civil War, Mediators Say

JOHANNESBURG — The Ethiopian government and forces in the country’s northern Tigray region agreed on Wednesday to what they called “a permanent cessation of hostilities” in a brutal civil war that has lasted two years, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of people, the displacement of more than two million and widespread hunger and suffering.

The two sides signed an agreement to stop the fighting after 10 days of peace talks convened by the African Union in South Africa. The deal came one day before the second anniversary of the start of the war, on Nov. 3, 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia announced what he called a “law and order” operation against Tigrayan political leaders who had defied his authority.

“The two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities,” Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian president, representing the African Union, said in a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital. “This moment is not the end of the peace process,” he added, “but the beginning of it.”

The talks began as the civil war was intensifying and Ethiopian troops were claiming territory in Tigray, aided by an infusion of troops from the neighboring country of Eritrea to the north.

Eritrea, whose troops have been fighting alongside Ethiopian forces in Tigray, was not part of the formal peace talks in South Africa, and it was not immediately clear whether that country would comply with the agreement.

The civil war has led to widespread destruction, a deepening humanitarian crisis and extensive human rights violations, including massacres, ethnic cleansing and sexual violence.

The agreement signed on Wednesday outlines a plan to allow humanitarian access to Tigray, where electricity, banking and other vital services have been cut off for over 16 months. The deal also has provisions for reintegrating Tigray’s regional government back into the central government, said Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s former president, who also acted as a mediator.

In addition, the agreement says that the Ethiopian National Defense Force will be the only nationally recognized military force.

“The devil will be in the implementation,” said Mr. Kenyatta, warning that unnamed “destructive” actors “from within or without” could yet derail the peace process — a likely reference to Eritrean and ethnic Amhara forces that have been fighting alongside the Ethiopian military.

“We still have a lot of work to do in terms of beginning the political process,” he said. But one key achievement of Wednesday’s deal is that “the solution to the problems of Ethiopia lie in the hands of the people of Ethiopia,” he added.

As many as 500,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Tigray, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said recently. The United States feared that the latest wave of fighting would lead to more atrocities, she added.

Lynsey Chutel reported from Johannesburg, Abdi Latif Dahir from Nairobi and Declan Walsh from Somalia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *