UA to Abiy: remove the terrorist label from the TPLF for the sake of talks; the rebels lay down their arms
Ethiopia last week fought pressure from the African Union to have the outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) grievances legitimized – if they lay down their arms.
This proposal, according to sources East Africa, is to convince the Abiy Ahmed administration to remove the terrorist group label from the TPLF, to force the group to demand peace and to force it to authorize elections in the Tigray region.
Next week, the African Union’s new High Representative for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, is expected to begin his tour of the region with Ethiopia in mind.
The proposal was presented this week after Ethiopia’s senior diplomat Demeke Mekonnen received his Kenyan counterpart Raychelle Omamo in Addis Ababa on Thursday. The dispatch from the meeting confirmed that the talks had focused on the issue of the troubled Tigray region, as well as the Nile Dam dispute and the ongoing border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan.
Thursday’s meeting was preceded by Kenya’s call for Ethiopia to make a “painful compromise” to end the war in the north. Ms. Omamo told media in Addis that Kenya is determined to help Ethiopia through the crisis and will offer its support.
Less risk of war
Diplomatic sources said East Africa that Kenya believes the other two issues – the border dispute and the dam dispute – present a lower war risk, compared to the atrocities that the war in the north has brought to the country.
“The problem is internal. Which means the Ethiopians themselves have to accept that they have a problem and choose dialogue, ”said a diplomat familiar with Kenya’s proposal. “Until that happens, they won’t solve the other problems.”
Kenya last week led Africa’s representatives on the UN Security Council to call on Ethiopia and the TPLF to choose dialogue as soon as possible, warning that the war will be costly for both sides.
Leading the group known as A3 Plus 1, Dr Martin Kimani, Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN in New York, said Ethiopia should consider renewing the TPLF as a political movement. , provided that he withdraws from the regions he invaded and stops fighting to allow reconstruction of collapsed livelihoods in the region.
“We urge the Ethiopian government to remove all legal, administrative and security obstacles to political dialogue,” said Dr Kimani, in a joint statement endorsed by Tunisia, Niger and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, countries that form the A3 Plus 1.
“Peace cannot be made with a political movement that has been labeled a terrorist group. Parliament should prepare to lift this designation to allow direct contacts and negotiations with armed actors opposed to the government, ”he said.
The group says Ethiopia must recognize the grievances of armed groups and “understand that they must be resolved peacefully”.
One way to do this, argued Dr Kimani, is for Ethiopia to lift the ban and agree on an electoral plan that will establish a legitimate regional government.
Tigray did not participate in the elections held in June, Addis citing security threats. But the TPLF defied a national postponement last year and held elections in Tigray. They then allegedly attacked a northern command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, starting a war that has lasted until now.
“Democracy is above all a mechanism for resolving serious political disputes. The democratic mandate granted by millions of voters must include every Ethiopian citizen. Even, and perhaps most importantly, in Tigray and other parts of the country where the vote did not take place due to insecurity, ”said the A3 Plus 1, which is a group of non-voting members. of the African and Caribbean Council.
“To the armed actors of Tigray, the TPLF or the TDF, we call for the withdrawal of neighboring regions, and the end of the rallying of other armed actors. The further they move away from Tigray, the greater the danger for the people in whose name they claim to act, ”they further warned.
The conflict in Tigray has left more than 400,000 people at risk of starvation and the UN humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia, Grant Leaity, has warned that food stocks available in the region are running out due to humanitarian lockdowns in three of the four corridors initially used.
Bankole Adeoye, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, said on Friday that the African Union had approved the A3 Plus 1 proposals because the continental bloc sees the conflict as an unnecessary cost to the ‘Ethiopia.
“A military solution, for us and for the African Union, is not realistic. It is not achievable, ”Adeoye told reporters at a virtual press conference on his plan for next year for Africa.
“As long as the dialogue is inclusive and includes all armed groups that have renounced violence, the groups should be encouraged to join. We see no meaningful solution to this dispute. The only way out is a negotiated settlement, ”added Mr. Adeoye.
Reconciliation and rehabilitation
The continental bloc says that over the next six months it is aiming for reconciliation and rehabilitation of warring communities. But that will depend on how the two parties build trust. While the AU wants the dialogue to be “comprehensive and inclusive”, it demanded that the TPLF return the favor by stopping the fighting.
“We hope that the TPLF side will also do the right thing and accept the ceasefire. The elections in Ethiopia (last June) showed that the Ethiopian people are ready to unite, ”he said.
Mr. Obasanjo’s immediate task will be to push for a permanent and inclusive ceasefire in Tigray and to push for a political solution to the conflict. This solution will go through a national reconciliation, a dialogue conference which will also provide for an election in Tigray.
“We hope that the TPLF as outlawed or its representatives and the federal government, will realize that the only way out is to sit around the table. Even during the Cold War, the United States and the USSR still discussed and signed agreements, ”Mr. Adeoye said.
Last week, however, Ethiopia protested efforts to legitimize a group it said has killed thousands and committed atrocities, including attacks in neighboring areas of Amhara and Afar.
Taye Atske Selassie, Ethiopia’s permanent representative to the UN, said the world “misunderstood” the conflict by treating TPLFs as victims.
“TPLF is not the victim; it is the culprit! The Ethiopian people, especially those of Afar, Amhara and Tigray, live in unjustified and unbearable conditions, ”he said. “We are surprised by all those who seem to have called for peace and pressured the government to suspend its law enforcement operations so that it will tolerate and later ratify, through their reluctance, the expansion of the violence and chaos of the TPLF. “
Getachew Reda, the spokesperson for the TPLF, claimed that the AU had been biased towards him. While welcoming the appointment of President Obasanjo, the TPLF said the AU must be impartial.
“What we have a hard time knowing is how people would reasonably expect a constructive role from an institution that has given bias a very bad reputation,” he said. “There is hardly any trace of AUC seriously discussing the war against Tigray. I know it’s a luxury they can hardly afford. Have they ever tried to reach out to the people of Tigray or its leaders? “