The African Union’s mediator declared a ceasefire on Wednesday after protracted negotiations in South Africa between the warring parties in Ethiopia’s destructive conflict.
A war that has taken thousands of lives and sparked a dire humanitarian situation was unexpectedly announced nearly two years to the day after it began.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria and the AU’s mediator, said, “Today represents the beginning of a new dawn for Ethiopia, for the Horn of Africa, and indeed for Africa as a whole.”
At a briefing in Pretoria, Obasanjo stated that “the two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the halt of hostilities as well as the systematic, orderly, smooth, and coordinated disarmament.”
Since the start of the conflict, they represented the first formal discussion between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
A Western diplomat claimed that before, secret contacts had taken place in the Seychelles and Djibouti.
The rebels in Tigray applauded the agreement and said they had made “concessions.”
Getachew Reda, the leader of their group, declared, “We are ready to implement and expedite this agreement.”
We have made sacrifices in order to ease our people’s suffering because we need to earn their trust.
Intense warfare had continued unabatedly in Tigray despite the peace talks, where government soldiers supported by the Eritrean army and local forces were conducting airstrikes and artillery bombardments to seize a number of towns from the rebels.
According to Abiy, these included the strategically important city of Shire, Axum, and Adwa.
The conflict and the death toll among civilians caught in the crossfire had the international community in great worry.
Western governments had also demanded a departure of Eritrean military, whose return to the frontlines has stoked fears of new atrocities against civilians, in addition to a ceasefire and humanitarian access to Tigray.
On November 4, 2020, the violence broke out when Abiy moved troops into Tigray after charging the regionally dominant TPLF with attacking federal army facilities.
Fighting broke out after months of simmering hostilities between Abiy and the TPLF, which had controlled Ethiopia’s government coalition for nearly three decades before he took office in 2018.
More than two million people have been driven from their homes as a result of the war, which the US says has also claimed up to 500,000 lives.
Before the two-year mark, Amnesty International said in a statement that “all parties have been responsible for serious violations, encompassing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including extrajudicial executions and summary killings of hundreds of people as well as sexual violence against women and girls.”