The second meeting between senior commanders of the federal government of Ethiopia and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) at Nairobi concluded with an agreement to meet next in the capital of the Tigray region, Mekelle, before the new year is ushered in.
Uhuru Kenyata, former Kenyan president, and AU high-level panel member said, “I don’t want to mention a specific date, but it is before the end of this month” when asked about the expected meeting schedule in Mekelle.
The African Union announced that the meeting finalized the Term of Reference (ToR) of the Joint Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mechanism (JMVCM). It also discussed the implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DOR) process.
After the peace accord was signed in Pretoria, the military commanders of the two parties met in Nairobi to lay out plans for the implementation of the agreement, such as disarmament and monitoring procedures.
While efforts of disarmament and restoration of basic services in Tigray are underway following the peace deal, the TPLF has voiced its complaint regarding insufficient execution of responsibilities on the government's side.
Speaking at the Tigray State Council meeting last week, Debretsion Gebremichael (Ph.D.), Chairman of the TPLF, said, “While the people and government of Tigray are working hard for the successful implementation of the peace deal, the Ethiopian federal government failed to discharge its obligation of driving the Eritrean and Amhara forces out of Tigray."
According to the Pretoria agreement, the disarmament of heavy weapons by TPLF forces is to be done concurrently with the withdrawal of the foreign and non-Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) from the region.
“Our troops have dismantled their heavy weapons and artillery and placed them in a location that can be confirmed by the relevant authority in order to avoid giving the Eritrean and Amhara forces an excuse to remain in Tigray and to assure our readiness for the fulfillment of the peace pact,” said Debretsion.
Uhuru Kenyatta indicated during the second Nairobi meeting that the warring parties already agreed on this and the AU is going to verify the issue. “It [the peace deal signed in Nairobi in November] states the removal of all foreign forces from Tigray. So without mentioning any names, saying this or that, it is indeed part of the agreement out there. That’s already a stated matter of fact.”
The Nairobi meeting set to follow up on the implementation of the permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement agreed to form a Team of African Experts (TAE), which was done according to Article 11(5) of the Pretoria agreement.
The Term of Reference (ToR) of the Joint Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mechanism lays down that “African experts not exceeding 10 shall be appointed to assist the joint committee to discharge its mandate," which includes “verifying the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces to their respective borders, and ensuring the deployment of ENDF along the international border of Ethiopia and in the areas convenient to its operation."
“The presence of the African Union Monitoring Team in Tigray is eagerly awaited in order to ensure the successful implementation of the peace accord,” Debretsion told the Tigrai State Council.
Both the team of experts and the joint committee are expected to remain in office for six months.
Uhuru Kenyata expressed his appreciation for the Ethiopian government and TPLF for their commitment during the peace process and his hopes for a promising future.
“We are very happy and grateful to both parties, who have been at the center of the negotiation for the last few months. We are indeed making tremendous progress, and today is another plus day in which the parties have agreed to a series of actions and activities aimed at restoring normalcy in Tigray and restoring peace in Ethiopia."