Ethiopia’s prime minister’s national security adviser said on Wednesday that the government has accepted an invitation by the African Union (AU) to participate in peace talks aimed at ending a two-year conflict with rival Tigray forces.
Tigray forces have has yet to respond to the invitation for talks this weekend in South Africa, which would be the first formal negotiations between the two sides since the outbreak of war in November 2020.
Two diplomatic sources said: “The conflict has killed thousands of civilians and uprooted millions.”
Redwan Hussein the national security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Twitter: “The Ethiopian government has accepted the invitation which is in line with our principled position regarding the peaceful resolution of the conflict and the need to have talks without preconditions.”
AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki also invited Debretsion Gebremichael who leads Tigray’s ruling political party to the talks in a letter.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said last month it was ready for a ceasefire and would accept an AU-led peace process after previously raising objections to AU proposals.
Olusegun Obasanjo the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa will lead the negotiations with support from former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, according to the AU letter.
No formal talks between the two sides were held during a five-month ceasefire between March and August.
Abiy’s government accuses the TPLF which dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition until Abiy came to power in 2018, of trying to re-assert Tigrayan dominance over Ethiopia and the TPLF accuses Abiy of over-centralising power and oppressing Tigrayans. Both dismiss each other’s accusations.
Video | Ethiopian government declares itself ready to hold peace talks with rebels: