Johannesburg, Nov 2 (EFE).- Ethiopia’s central government and leaders of the rebellious province of Tigray signed on Wednesday a pact meant to end two years of war that have left tens of thousands dead and forced some 2 million people from their homes.
“The two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament,” the African Union (AU) High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, said at the start of the ceremony in Pretoria.
The accord likewise calls for “restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians, especially women children and other vulnerable groups,” the former Nigerian president said.
“This is not the end of the peace process, but the beginning of it,” Obasanjo said, flanked by the other members of the AU mediation team, South African former Vice President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Kenyan ex-President Uhuru Kenyatta.
An AU member-state will assume responsibility for “monitoring, supervising and implementation,” he said.
Ethiopian Deputy Foreign Minister Redwan Hussien and Getachew Reda, representing the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), signed the agreement and exchanged a handshake to applause from those present at the conference center in South Africa’s capital.
“It is now for all of us to honor this agreement,” Redwan said. “The level of destruction is immense.”
Getachew said that the TPLF is “ready to implement and expedite this agreement.
“In order to address the pains of our people, we have made concessions because we have to build trust,” he said.
The TPLF had been reluctant to engage in the AU-sponsored talks in South Africa because they saw Obasanjo as too close to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, but they ultimately agreed and the discussions began on Oct. 25.
In November 2020, Abiy ordered a full-scale offensive after the TPLF seized an army base in Tigray, the culmination of months of tensions between the federal and regional governments.
TPLF troops retreated to secure redoubts in the face of the rapid advance of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), only to re-emerge later and renew the conflict.
In March, the warring parties proclaimed an “indefinite humanitarian truce,” but fighting continued and even intensified in the last two months. EFE