Ethiopia’s Tigray Region May Finally Be Looking Up To Long-Term PeaceJanuary 12, 2023
Tigrayan rebels have begun handing in heavy weapons, a key part of an agreement signed more than two months ago to end a deadly conflict in northern Ethiopia, a spokesperson for the rebel authorities said.
“Tigray has handed over its heavy weapons as part of its commitment to implementing the #Pretoria agreement” that was signed between Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan rebels, Tigray People’s Liberation Front spokesperson Getachew Reda tweeted Wednesday.
“We hope & expect this will go a long way in expediting the full implementation of the agreement. We hope & expect!”
The move is a central part of the 12 November 2022 ceasefire agreement which seeks to end conflict that killed thousands of people and misplaced millions, alongside the restoration of services. It also includes the resumption of humanitarian aid and withdrawal of Eritrean Troops, who fought alongside Ethiopia’s army but were party to the truce.
At the handover ceremony, Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) representative Mulugeta Gebrechristos said the start of the disarmament would play a major role in restoring peace.
“We are operating with the belief that if we are to have peace, all things that open the door for provocation must not be there. Peace is vital for us all,” Mulugeta said in a speech broadcast on the local Tigrai TV.
“We are all [part of] one Ethiopia. Both us and the TDF have moved from our respective defensive positions in peace, understanding and love,” Aleme Tadesse, a representative of the Ethiopian army, said.
The decision for Eritrea to leave Tigray was reached after a delegation of Ethiopian government officials for the first time toured Mekelle on 29 November 2022, the capital of Tigray since the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA).
An Ethiopian official confirmed under condition of anonymity that Eritrean soldiers had withdrawn from Axum and Shire
Dozens of trucks carrying Eritrean soldiers left Axum and Shire cities heading towards the border of Eritrea on 31 Thursday 2022. Three aid workers in Axum and Shire also confirmed witnessing several trucks and dozens of cars packed with Eritrean soldiers on Thursday leaving towards the border town of Sheraro.
The withdrawal followed the November 2, 2022 peace agreement that was signed by both Ethiopia’s federal government and Tigray Regional party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Which consisted of various provisions including permanent cessation of hostilities and the removal of foreign troops and non-federal forces from Tigray.
An Ethiopian government delegation, including the prime minister’s national security adviser Redwan Hussein and several ministers, visited Tigray’s capital Mekelle on 26 December, marking a major step in the peace process.
A few days later, on 29 December, mediators of the Ethiopian Tigray peace deal, led by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the former President of Nigeria Olesegun Obasanjo and other African Union negotiators met in Ethiopia to evaluate the Pretoria agreement that was signed on 2 November.
According to an Ethiopian government statement, the delegation visited the Tigrayan capital Mekelle to supervise the implementation of major issues in the peace agreement signed on November 2.
The Tigrayan spokesman Getachew Reda on twitter described the visit as a milestone in the peace agreement saying that the discussions held were fruitful and important understanding was reached.
The 2-year war that raged in all four regions of Ethiopia started when Abiy Ahmed deployed the army to arrest Tigrayan leaders who had been challenging his authority for months and whom he accused of attacking federal military bases.
The fighting has stopped since November’s peace deal, the rebels claiming to have disengaged 65 percent of their fighters from the front lines.
But Tigrayans have denounced the atrocities they say have been committed by Eritrea’s army and the forces of Ethiopia’s neighboring Amhara region, which have supported the federal army in the conflict.
Tigrayan authorities, as well as residents and aid workers who spoke to the AFP news agency, accuse them of looting, rape, executions and abductions of civilians.
With access to Tigray restricted, it is impossible to independently verify the situation on the ground, including the presence of Eritrean forces.
Humanitarian operations have been ramped up since the peace deal, but the amount of food and medical aid being delivered remains far below the enormous needs.
Mekelle was connected to the national power grid on December 6.
Ethiopia’s main bank CBE said on December 19 that it was resuming operations in some towns, and telephone communications with the region have begun to be restored.
The war has displaced more than two million Ethiopians and left more than 13.6 million people dependent on humanitarian aid in northern Ethiopia, the UN said.
It also, according to the UN, plunged hundreds of thousands of people into near-famine conditions.
The two-year war did not only destroy lives and properties but families and relationships and the trust of the people within and outside the country that will take years to recover.