March 25, 2022

Ethiopian warring parties reach cessation of hostilities

PoliticsNews

Affirming that the people and Government of Tigray will do their best to give peace a chance, TPLF called the government to be bound by the decision

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By Addis Zeybe

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Ethiopian warring parties reach cessation of hostilities
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Credit: The Economist

The Ethiopian government declared an immediate humanitarian truce to facilitate the passage of aid into the war-torn region and save lives. The government’s decision is also welcomed by TPLF confirming that it will be committed to the truce’s implementation. 

In a statement issued on March 24 by the Government Communication Service, the government said it is committed to exerting maximum effort to facilitate the free flow of emergency humanitarian aid into the Tigray region. 

“Cognizant of the need to take extraordinary measures to save lives and reduce human suffering, the Government of Ethiopia hereby declares an indefinite humanitarian truce effective immediately.”

Following the government’s statement, TPLF issued a response stating where the right circumstance arises for its people to receive the level of humanitarian assistance in proportion with needs on the ground, and within a reasonable timeframe, TPLF is committed to implementing the cessation of hostilities effective immediately. 

Affirming that the people and Government of Tigray will do their best to give peace a chance, TPLF called the government to be bound by the decision. “We call on the Ethiopian authorities to go beyond empty promises and take concrete steps to facilitate unfettered humanitarian access to Tigray.”

The Ethiopian government on its part required the TPLF to comply with certain conditions for the effective materialization of the humanitarian truce. “To optimize the success of the humanitarian truce, the Government calls upon the insurgents in Tigray to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighboring regions.”

TPLF’s President Debretsion Gebremichael laid down minimum conditions for a negotiated end to the war in his statement on Tigrai television on Feb 18, 2022. The conditions laid down are that Tigray Defense Forces and its weapons will remain intact; Tigray will retain the regional borders established by the Ethiopian Constitution; the Eritrean army must withdraw from all of Tigray; the future of Tigray will be decided by Tigrayans through a referendum, up to and including self-determination, as guaranteed by the Ethiopian Constitution; the blockade of Tigray must be lifted in all its forms; all those responsible for genocide against Tigrayans must be held to account.

In his speech at the recent General Assembly of the ruling Porsperty Party, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told party members that his administration will use any available means to resolve the conflict.

The Prime Minister’s stance of peace has also reverberated in the government’s statement that it “believes that the truce will substantially improve the humanitarian situation on the ground and pave the way for the resolution of the conflict in northern Ethiopia without further bloodshed.”

The 17 months old war in Northern Ethiopia began after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed carried out a claimed law enforcement operation in the Tigray region on Nov 4, 2021, in response to an alleged attack of the Northern Command base of the Ethiopian Defence Forces by TPLF. 

Since the beginning of the conflict, there have been several reports publicized by both local and international organizations that came up with accounts of mass rapes and massacres, war crimes, and other crimes against humanity that may have been conducted by all sides in the conflict. 

The World Food Program estimates over 2.1 million people have been displaced and are living in dire situations. Besides, more than 9 million people need food assistance in northern Ethiopia and the aid will be required throughout 2022 across Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions of  Northern Ethiopia, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA.)

This Ethiopian government’s decision came after US Congressmen Michael McCaul and Gregory Meeks introduced the HR 6600 (Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act) bill on February 4, 2022.  

During a virtual meeting with leaders of the Ethiopian diaspora community, based in the United States on March 22, Demeke Mekonnen, Minister of Foreign Affairs, called on the Ethiopian diaspora to protest HR6600. "HR6600 and S3199 are drafted to nullify the struggles and regress achievements of Ethiopians all over the world in protecting their country's sovereignty."

The bill authorizes sanctions against those responsible for the conflict's continuation and suspends security and financial assistance to the Ethiopian government until humanitarian and human rights conditions are met. The international community and countries had been urging the parties in the conflict to find a peaceful solution to the war.