Ethiopia’s peace process gathers pace

Addis Ababa, 30 December – In Ethiopia, the implementation of the ceasefire agreed two months ago is beginning to take shape after two years of civil war. Three eyewitnesses reported on Friday that Eritrean soldiers had evacuated the towns of Shire and Axum in Ethiopia’s rebel Tigray province and were heading towards the border. During the civil war, Eritrea fought on behalf of the central government in Addis Ababa against the Tigray rebels in northern Ethiopia. Tigray borders Eritrea.

The ceasefire aims to mark the beginning of a peace process. At the beginning there is the disengagement of the troops. Part of the deal is the withdrawal of all foreign soldiers from Ethiopia. On Thursday, representatives from both sides in the civil war set up a joint team in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, to support the disarmament of Tigray militias, the restoration of public services and humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Technicians have started repairing telecommunications lines and the national airline Ethiopian Airlines has resumed flights to the north of the country.

However, Eritrea is not a signatory to the ceasefire agreement that was sealed between the Ethiopian central government and the Tigray rebels through the mediation of the African Union. Eritrea still sees an enemy in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This dates back to a bloody war between Ethiopia and Eritrea from 1998 to 2000. At that time, the Ethiopian government was dominated by the TPLF.

The question of whether the evacuation of two towns could mean the start of the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from all over Tigray remained open at first. Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel told Reuters he could neither confirm nor deny whether his country’s troops would be withdrawn. Neither the Tigray rebels nor the Ethiopian government initially wanted to comment on the matter.

The civil war was caused by long-standing rivalries between regional powers vying for supremacy in Ethiopia. The TPLF rebels have accused Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of centralizing power away from Ethiopian regions. Abiy denies this and in return accuses the TPLF of wanting to regain power in the country. The TPLF was the dominant force in the state until Abiy was elected prime minister in 2018. Fighting in Africa’s second most populous country has displaced millions and killed thousands of civilians. There is famine in parts of Tigray.

Ethiopia peace process gathers pace – Eritrea’s role unclear

Source: Reuters

Symbolic photo: photo of Mustafa cevcek on Pixabay

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