African Countries and World leaders have reacted with cautious optimism after the announcement of a peace deal and a cease-fire between warring parties in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
The deal was struck on Wednesday as the war neared the two-year mark since fighting erupted in the Tigray region, in the early hours of Nov. 4, 2020. The fighting has killed hundreds of thousands of people, uprooted millions from their homes and devastated one of Africa’s biggest economies.
At a ceremony in South Africa, mediators for Ethiopia’s federal government and rebels from the country’s northern Tigray region shook hands and posed for photographs, before sitting down to sign a permanent cessation of hostilities.
But one major player in the conflict the neighbouring nation of Eritrea wasn’t involved in the negotiations, which raises questions about the lasting power of the truce.
Recalled that the tensions came to a head when Abiy postponed elections scheduled for August 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. When the TPLF went ahead with its regional vote, Abiy suspended Tigray’s federal funding.
Abiy’s government blames the TPLF for attacking a federal army base in Tigray, while TPLF officials say they were preempting an invasion of their region by federal troops and allied ones from neighbouring Eritrea.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “We applaud the parties in their commitment to peace in reaching this agreement. The United States remains committed to supporting this African Union-led process and peace and to partnering to advance peace in northern Ethiopia.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “welcomed the signing of a cessation of hostilities” in a Twitter post-Wednesday, praising the African Union for “its extraordinary efforts to bring peace to northern Ethiopia.”
Negotiations began on October 25 in Johannesburg and concluded after 10 days. The deal calls for the disarming of Tigrayan forces with both parties agreeing to “permanently silence the guns.” The parties agreed to “stop all forms of conflicts, and hostile propaganda,” calling Ethiopians within the country and abroad to support efforts for lasting peace.
African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki congratulated the parties on reaching a deal.
“I warmly commend the Parties for signing a cessation of hostilities agreement following talks facilitated by the AU Panel,” he said in a Twitter post.
He said, “committed to continuing supporting the Parties to find lasting peace & reconciliation for all Ethiopians.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Ethiopians and the international community to “support the bold step” taken by the warring parties. And European Union’s foreign affairs chief Joseph Borrell urged that “swift implementation of the agreement” was needed and underscored the need to “resume humanitarian access in all affected areas and to restore basic services.”
The civil war in Africa’s second-most populous country marks its second anniversary on November 4. The United Nations says the conflict has claimed thousands of lives, with about 3.5 million internally displaced this year in Tigray in 2022. Humanitarian convoy movements to Mekelle, the capital city of Tigray, through Afar “came to a complete stop” on 24 August, the U.N. said with many facing hunger.