Ethiopia: Tigrayan rebels and government talk in Pretoria

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Éethiopia&nbsp ;: Tigrayan rebels and government talk in Pretoria

Peace talks are scheduled to end on October 30.

Fighting in Tigray reportedly left up to 500,000 dead and millions displaced.

Rebels from the Tigray region and the Ethiopian government on Tuesday began talks in the South African capital Pretoria aimed at “finding a peaceful and lasting solution” to the conflict that has ravaged northern Ethiopia for almost two years.

The start of these highly anticipated discussions, under the aegis of the African Union (AU), was announced by the South African Presidency.

< p class="e-p">Peace talks to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the devastating conflict in the Tigray region began today October 25 and will end on October 30, South African President Spokesman Cyril Ramaphosa said. Vincent Magwenya.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki hailed in a statement the parties' commitment to peace and seeking a lasting political solution and assured support to silence the guns towards a united, stable, peaceful and resilient Ethiopia.

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 the north of Ethiopia in a grave humanitarian crisis.

After a five-month truce, fighting resumed on August 24. Ethiopian and Eritrean forces have announced in recent weeks that they have seized several towns, including Shire, one of the main towns in Tigray, on October 18.

The international community has #x27;is alarmed by this recent resurgence of violence.

Tigrayan rebels and the Ethiopian government began peace talks this morning in South Africa. These talks are aimed at ending nearly two years of armed conflict. Lise Villeneuve's account.

These discussions are the first public dialogue between the two sides, although a Western official has confirmed that previous secret contacts – organized by the United States – had been held in the Seychelles and twice in Djibouti.

The mediation team includes the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the ;Former South African Vice-President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Representatives of the East African intergovernmental organization Igad, the UN and the United States are also present as observers.

On Thursday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assured that the war would end and peace would prevail, without however mentioning the negotiations and while the pro-government forces have recently stepped up their offensive in Tigray.

A rebel spokesman tweeted Sunday evening their demands: immediate cessation of hostilities, unhindered humanitarian access and withdrawal of Eritrean forces.

The leader of Tigray rebels Debretsion Gebremichael adopted a more martial tone on Monday, assuring that joint enemy forces that entered Tigray will be buried.

The war began in November 2020 when Mr. Abiy sent the army to Tigray to dislodge regional authorities from the Tigris People's Liberation Front (TPLF) who challenged his authority and whom he accused. of attacking military bases.

The TPLF dominated Ethiopia's ruling coalition for decades, before Abiy acceded to it in 2018. then removed from power.

The exact toll of this conflict, which is taking place largely behind closed doors, is unknown.

Journalists do not have access to northern Ethiopia and telecommunications there operate haphazardly, making independent verification of information impossible.

< p class="e-p">US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield estimated on Friday that in two years up to half a million people have died .

The war has also displaced more than 2 million Ethiopians and plunged hundreds of thousands into near-famine conditions, according to the UN.

This conflict has been punctuated with accusations of abuses and massacres of civilians committed by both sides.

In a press release, the human rights NGO person Amnesty International has warned of the risk of further atrocities.

Tigrayan civilians fear that widespread abuses, such as unlawful killings, sexual violence and systematic attacks [… ] could happen again, said its director for eastern and southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda.

According to Amnesty, airstrikes in Mekele and Adi Daero in August and September killed hundreds of civilians, including children. The NGO also accuses the Eritrean army of having extrajudicially executed at least 40 people […] in the town of Sheraro, in northwestern Tigray.

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