Ethiopia combatants sign deal to start implementing truce

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces  signed an agreement laying out the road map for implementation of a peace deal that both sides reached in South Africa this month on Saturday.

Representatives from the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have been meeting in Nairobi since Monday to reach agreement on various aspects related to the implementation of the peace pact signed in Pretoria.

Saturday’s declaration is expected to boost efforts by the African Union mediators to try to resolve a two-year conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions in the Horn of Africa country. It will facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, provide security guarantees to aid workers, ensure the protection of civilians and establish a joint committee to oversee implementation, say mediators.

The deal will be put into effect “immediately”, mediator Olusegun Obasanjo told a news conference before the signing. Both sides said they were committed to the declaration, stressing it was the only way to restore peace and stability.

A senior Ethiopian military official, Birhanu Jula says, “We will fully dedicate ourselves to implementing the Pretoria agreement and this declaration.”

Ethiopian military officials and TPLF had reached an agreement on the disarmament of TPLF fighters and entry of the Ethiopian military into the Tigrayan capital of Mekele, the federal government said in a statement issued after the signing.

One of TPLF’s representatives, General Tadesse Werede, say the declaration on implementation had given them hope that the suffering of the people in Tigray would end. When asked if the agreement included accountability for war crimes, Uhuru Kenyatta, another mediator and former President of Kenya say “When the guns are silenced and the dire humanitarian situation is addressed.”

“There shall be severe sanctions against anyone who commits atrocities against civilians.” he adds.

The two sides agreed to a permanent cessation of hostilities in an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough in South Africa on November 2nd.

Immediate humanitarian access will be welcome relief in a region where hundreds of thousands face famine conditions.

On Friday Ethiopia’s government said international aid was “allowed and ready” to move into Tigray.

Agencies were preparing to send an aid convoy to Alamata in Southern Tigray next week, and working out the final details forgetting aid to other areas, according to a senior humanitarian official in Ethiopia.