Winds of change are signifying to blow in the face of the two-year deadly conflict waged between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) with the positive developments of the peace accord signed in Pretoria.
The high-level government delegation’s visit to the Tigray region’s capital, Mekele, is supposed as a remarkable milestone in the peace process.
The delegation led by Tagesse Chafo, Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR), met with TPLF Chairman Debretsion Gebremichael and other officers on Dec 26 in Mekelle.
“Some actions of public import take courageous decisions. Arriving in Mekele has been a momentous occasion filled with emotions. Premier Abiy's decision of sending the delegation attests government's resolve to push ahead. The impediment has been a lack of trust. We dared to rekindle it,” said Redwan Hussein, the PM's National Security Advisor in a tweet.
Proclaiming his gratitude and pleasure, Debretsion said during the meeting, “I would like to forward my particular appreciation to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.”
This statement went viral among local users of several social media platforms to the astonishment of many because, prior to the peace deal, TPLF leaders and affiliated media outlets had been blatantly addressing the Prime Minister and the federal government as “dictator, fascist, and genocidal”.
Redwan further mentioned that, in the meantime, TPLF’s handing over of heavy weapons and resumption of the “Constitutional duty of ENDF in Mekele in particular” is expected to be executed until Thursday, Dec 29 as per the Nairobi agreement.
A day after the government delegation headed to Mekelle, Ethiopian Airlines announced that it is going to resume daily flights to the region’s capital. The airline made the last flight to Mekelle in Dec 2020 as the conflict broke out and terminated its regular daily flights to the region afterward.
According to Redwan, PM Abiy gave instructions to CEOs to further expedite the resumption of services in Tigray during the briefing the delegation had with the Premier regarding the Mekelle visit.
In the joint press briefing held during the visit, Debretsion said “We started all our communications through third parties, but this is the first stage we met each other without the attendance of external parties. This is a milestone, discussing what we have to do will be our next topic”.
Both Tagesse Chafo and Debretsion Gebremichael lauded the meeting as a historical day to begin a new chapter.
“All members of the delegation were assuming a visit to its own people, no one doubted its security or hospitality from the people when flying to Tigray,” said Tagesse.
Getachew Reda, a member of the TPLF central committee said on his part that the reason members of the delegation paid a visit without guards or security personnel is because of the trust they have in “their partner on the peace process and the people of Tigray”.
The chairman of TPLF underscored the issues which he said need the attention of the federal government, such as access to humanitarian aid, resumption of services, health, and related facilities, supporting IDPs, as well as the evacuation of the Eritrean forces out of the region.
It is also noted that the regional council of Tigray refused to table the peace agreement document on the council and also rejected TPLF’s request to approve it with the claim that the council is the people’s representative and the issue is TPLF’s concern.
“Finally we [TPLF and the regional council] agreed to present the general idea of the agreement without bringing the document to the council. The peace talk is however commended by the council,”, Debretsion added.
“We don’t want half peace. Representatives from different zones in the region are demanding the removal of the Eritrean and Amhara region militias from the region. There can not be a situation where one area is peaceful and the other in the chaos. But, this is the current situation in the region. TPLF has evacuated its forces from all war fields except the areas where Eritrean forces are present.”
The speaker of the house affirmed that the federal government will work to resume all private and government banking services in the Tigray region. Restoration of telecom, transportation, and electric services are also discussed in the meeting as priorities.