Addis Ababa, September 17/2022 (Walta) – In the past five months there was a rising hope that peace will prevail in Ethiopia. Indefinite humanitarian truce was unilaterally declared by the government on March 24, 2022, heightening the hope of all Ethiopians.
The olive branch was also embraced by the TPLF leadership until they violated it by provoking an attack on Amhara and Afar regions on August 24, 2022, which brought the humanitarian truce to an end.
The intent and focus of the indefinite humanitarian truce was not only to augment assistance to compatriots in Tigray but also to transcend the difficult path for all people in the northern Ethiopia, including the Afar and Amhara regions. The issue of basic services was one that has never been put as a precondition on the part of the government of Ethiopia. Over 2 billion US dollars was spent to reconstruct infrastructures damaged by the TPLF clique at the early stages of the conflict to be destroyed in no time by this clique. The latest plans to reconstruct and rebuild the Northern Ethiopia including basic services in Tigray were unfolding.
There has been also high expectations that the truce will lead to striking an agreement that will redirect all Ethiopians to the ardent task of endeavouring to addressing imminent needs of development by focusing on agricultural transformation, expansion of light manufacturing and renewable energy as well as improving the ease of doing business climate. These in turn would address challenges, among others, of youth unemployment, climate change and impacts of the recurrent droughts.
It was however disheartening to witness another TPLF provoked cycle of violence igniting right after the government further expressed its readiness to start the peace talk on the 17th of August to the AU peace team.
As a founding member of the League of Nations, the United Nations (UN) and Organization of African Union, Ethiopia has a track record of acting responsibly in playing its part including by contributing a large fleet to United Nations peace keeping operations and fighting terrorism within its subregion.
The people of Ethiopia have nurtured over the years unshakable culture of harmony and togetherness. These are people interlinked through cultural bonds ranging from mixed neighbourhoods, marriages, and multicultural schoolings with no barriers to ethnicity. It is a country that has accepted, at a very early stage, the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) all coexisting side by side. The current stances in some parts of the country seemingly inter-communal animosity do not define these deep-rooted values nurtured over the years by the Ethiopian polity. These are our tangible values and strength that help us overcome political discords that are drugging us into a path of conflict. It is also a thing to wither overtime as the political elites with diverse views come to their senses that the age-old wisdom of our multicultural society will overcome our differences.
The preparation for national dialogue that was launched as a concept at the early stages of the reform in 2018, currently at the stage of being finalised, will take us further a step to address diverse unsettled political issues that have been lingering over the years.
Hence the path to peace is within our reach. The two fundamentals would be upholding the AU peace process and committing to a national dialogue that embraces all political actors following peaceful path.
The international community can only add to peace efforts nurtured by all Ethiopians. The TPLF has to choose dialogue over destructive cycles of conflict.
The international community has to also realise that in the face of such a bellicose act, the Government has a constitutional mandate to maintain peace and security. It would be incumbent on those voices of reason to condemn acts of belligerence blatantly committed as in the case of the 24th of August that ended the indefinite humanitarian truce.
The hallmark of it all is that the Ethiopian government has chosen the path of truce through the AU process. It is time for the TPLF leadership to once again come to its senses and embrace the olive branch extended and show serious commitment to the latest position it announced in accepting the AU led process.
by Hirut Zemene, Ambassador of Ethiopia to Benelux and EU Institutions.