Ethiopia's Warring Sides Come to an Agreement

They agreed to a permanent cessation of hostilities, but challenges lie ahead
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 2, 2022 2:48 PM CDT
Ethiopia's Warring Sides Come to an Agreement
The city of Mekele is seen through a bullet hole in a stairway window of the Ayder Referral Hospital in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on May 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

Ethiopia's warring sides agreed Wednesday to a permanent cessation of hostilities in a 2-year conflict whose victims could be counted in the hundreds of thousands. But the AP reports enormous challenges lie ahead, including getting all parties to lay down arms or withdraw. African Union envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, in the first briefing on the peace talks in South Africa, said Ethiopia's government and Tigray authorities agreed on "orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament." Other key points included restoration of services to the long cut-off Tigray region and "unhindered access to humanitarian supplies."

The war in Africa's second-most populous country, which marks two years on Friday, has seen abuses documented on either side, with millions of people displaced. "The level of destruction is immense," the lead negotiator for Ethiopia’s government, Redwan Hussein, said. Lead Tigray negotiator Getachew Reda expressed a similar sentiment and noted that "painful concessions" had been made. Exhausted Ethiopians then watched them shake hands.

The full text of the agreement, including details on the disarmament and reintegration of Tigray forces, was not immediately available. "The devil will be in the implementation," said former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who helped facilitate the talks. Major questions remain. Eritrea, which has fought alongside neighboring Ethiopia, was notably not part of the peace talks. It’s not immediately clear to what extent its deeply repressive government, which has long considered Tigray authorities a threat, will respect the agreement. Eritrean forces have been blamed for some of the conflict’s worst abuses, including gang-rapes, and witnesses have described killings and lootings by Eritrean forces even during the peace talks.

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The conflict began in November 2020, less than a year after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for making peace with Eritrea, which borders the Tigray region. Abiy’s government has since declared the Tigray authorities, who ruled Ethiopia for nearly three decades before Abiy took office, a terrorist organization. The brutal fighting, which also spilled into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions as Tigray forces tried to press toward the capital, was renewed in August in Tigray after months of lull that allowed thousands of trucks of aid into the region.

(More Ethiopia stories.)

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