Addis Abeba – Various diplomats and members of international community have welcomed the signing of cessation of hostilities agreement between the Ethiopian federal government and representatives of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) n South Africa.
The warring parties have agreed to cessation of hostilities on Wednesday during conclusion of the AU-led peace talks that has been ongoing in Pretoria since 25 October.
Following the announcement PM Abiy Ahmed said in a statement that the agreement “is monumental in moving Ethiopia forward on the path of the reforms we embarked upon four and half years ago”.
“Our commitment to peace remains steadfast. And our commitment to collaborating for the implementation of the agreement is equally strong,” he added.
He expressed gratitude for mediators of the AU high panel, the African Union, the government of South Africa and “friends of Ethiopia” in general but didn’t specifically mention the US whose role in the peace talks according to analysts has been monumental.
The AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said he commends the Ethiopia government and the Tigrayan officials for signing the cessations of hostilities agreement. Adding that the AU is “committed to continue supporting the parties to find lasting peace & reconciliation for all Ethiopians”.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US “welcomes the momentous step” of the signing of a cessation of hostilities between the parties.
“We commend the parties for taking this initial step to agree to end the fighting and continue dialogue to resolve outstanding issues to consolidate peace and bring an end to almost two years of conflict. We welcome the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and the protection of civilians that should result from implementation of this agreement.”
He commended the AU for its “extraordinary efforts” to achieve the agreement and welcomed PM Abiy Ahmed’s “statement expressing gratitude to the AU and share our support for his desire for an enhanced partnership to support reconstruction and development for all communities in northern Ethiopia affected by the conflict”.
The EU’s high representative Josep Borell while congratulating both parties for the signing of the agreement, called for “a swift implementation on the ground of the agreement”.
“Priority is to resume humanitarian access in all affected areas and to restore basic services, in particular in Tigray. Further negotiations are encouraged to reach a permanent ceasefire agreement and launch broader political talks,” he added.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged all Ethiopians and the international community to support the “bold step” and said it was a promising start to finally stopping the fighting which erupted in November 2020 after months of tension, and which has destroyed so many lives and livelihoods.
Turkey among other several countries have welcomed the cessation of hostilities agreement and reiterated support for “the establishment of peace and tranquility in Ethiopia”.
An agreement on immediate cessation of hostilities was one of the key outcomes expected from the peace talks, which is facilitated by AU high representative to the Horn of Africa Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, along with former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Deputy President of South Africa Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Speaking at the event, Chief Obasanjo said that “the two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth, and coordinated disarmament, restoration of law and order, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians especially women, children, and other vulnerable groups, among other areas of agreement. The agreement also takes care of assurance of security for all concerned within and outside Ethiopia.”
Representatives of IGAD, the UN and the US are said to have participated as observers. AS