Ethiopia: Tigray rebels to join peace talks in South Africa

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ÉEthiopia: Tigray rebels to participate in peace talks in South Africa

After a five-month truce, fighting resumed on August 24.

Rebel authorities in the Tigray region announced on Friday that they would participate in talks with the Ethiopian government convened in South Africa on Monday by the African Union (AU) and aimed at ending two years of conflict in the north of the country.

Our delegation will be present in South Africa on Monday, said one of their spokespersons, Kindeya Gebrehiwot, in a message to AFP.

The Ethiopian federal government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, whom a deadly war has been opposing since November 2020 to the rebel authorities of Tigray, announced Thursday its participation in these talks. Shortly after, Mr. Abiy declared, when inaugurating a school in Addis Ababa, that the war would end and peace would prevail.

We are not going to continue fighting indefinitely, he asserted, without however mentioning the next discussions and while the Ethiopian army and its allies have recently stepped up their offensive in Tigray.

On Friday, the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) said it expected fruitful results from these talks scheduled to start on October 24, 2022 in South Africa, in a statement issued after its first meeting since the resumption of fighting in northern Ethiopia in late August.

Previous negotiations, organized in early October in South Africa by the AU, had fizzled before they even started.

The resumption of fighting on August 24 in northern Ethiopia ended a five-month truce and the faint hopes of peace talks it had sparked.

The UN Security Council is due to meet behind closed doors on Friday to discuss the situation in Ethiopia, the Department of Security spokesman told Washington. ;State, Ned Price.

These two meetings show the great concern of the international community regarding the situation in northern Ethiopia, he added.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) estimated on Friday that the current phase of the conflict poses a serious risk of increased atrocities against civilians by the Ethiopian and Eritrean troops and called on regional and Western powers to do more to prevent the disaster from continuing.

So far, the world's response to the war in Tigray has been sluggish, despite the huge number of casualties and the potential […] for regional destabilization, writes the ICG.

A World Food Program (WFP) truck transporting grain to Tigray is the engulfed in flames, in June 2022.

The AU, the UN, the European Union and Washington, in particular, are concerned about the recent intensification of the fighting in Tigray, taken in a pincer movement by the Ethiopian federal forces, supported in the north by the army of Eritrea – a country bordering the northern border of Tigray – and in the south by troops from neighboring Ethiopian regions.

Ethiopian and Eritrean forces notably seized on Monday, after several days of bombing, Shire, one of the main cities of Tigray, populated by around 100,000 inhabitants before the war and which hosted many displaced people.

A humanitarian source who requested anonymity told AFP that intense fighting was taking place on Friday in Selekelka, halfway between Shire and Aksoum, citing a push by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces towards this area. another major city in Tigray and an ancient site listed as a World Heritage Site.

In a telephone conversation Wednesday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was deeply worried about the risk of mass atrocities in northern Ethiopia.

UN Secretary General António Guterres

On Monday, Guterres said the situation in Ethiopia was spiraling out of control.

The exact toll of this deadly war, which is being fought largely behind closed doors, with journalists denied access to the area, is unknown.

But it displaced more than two million people and plunged hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians into near-famine conditions, according to the UN.

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