U.S. urges speedy implementation of Ethiopia peace deal

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the need for speedy implementation of a peace agreement signed between Ethiopia’s federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Blinken made the point Tuesday during a telephone meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the ongoing efforts to bring lasting peace to a two-year conflict in northern Ethiopia.

“The Secretary underlined the importance of immediately implementing the cessation of hostilities agreement, including withdrawal of all foreign forces and concurrent disarmament of the Tigrayan forces,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Secretary Blinken acknowledged the ongoing efforts by the Ethiopian government to work towards unhindered humanitarian assistance and the restoration of basic services in the Tigray Region as well as in the neighbouring Afar and Amhara Regions.

The United States played a key role in bringing the two warring parties to the negotiation table.

Since the onset of the Tigray conflict, the U.S. administration has assigned a special envoy to the Horn of Africa to end the war.

Last week, a senior U.S. official said that his country will impose strong sanctions on any party that obstructs the agreement reached between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF.

Ethiopia’s federal government and leaders in the war-torn Tigray region struck a peace accord on November 2, followed by an implementation deal ten days later.

The African Union-brokered deal was a triumph for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, as Tigray’s leaders agreed to disarm their forces and restore federal authority in the region.

In exchange, the Ethiopian military, and allied Eritrean troops halted their advance towards Tigray’s capital, Mekelle. Also, Addis Ababa said it would end its siege of the region.

The Abiy government locked all roads into the region, starving it of food and other supplies and cutting off telecommunications, electricity, and banking services. The blockade left almost 90 % of Tigray’s – roughly six million people – in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

During the follow-up talks in Kenya, Tigray authorities secured an additional pledge that Eritrean forces would withdraw from Tigrayan territories, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Per the implementation agreement signed in Nairobi, Tigray forces will give up “heavy” weapons concurrent with the “withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces”

Following the peace deal, fighting between the two sides has stopped. However, Eritrean forces are accused of continuing to commit atrocities against Tigrayans, including sexual assaults and summary executions.

An international think tank group on Wednesday said all parties to the conflict must act responsibly to build a solid foundation for peace.

“Yet the fragile calm could shatter, especially with thorny questions outstanding and Tigrayans already backtracking on commitments,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a statement it issued on Wednesday.

“Both sides need to honour their pledges while keeping up momentum in talks.”

“External actors must seize this moment to coax the parties towards consolidating peace and insist on immediate, unrestricted aid to Tigray,” the crisis group said.

The conflict erupted in Africa’s second-most populous country in late 2020, as Ethiopia struggled to navigate a complex political transition.

The Tigray conflict has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people.

Abiy rose to power in 2018, after three years of protests partly against the rule of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which had dominated Ethiopia for almost three decades, creating a repressive system that brought development gains but bred discontent.

Source: Sudan Tribune