Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Sudan Tribune

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Ethiopia denies breaking Tigray truce, calls for ceasefire deal

Tigray IDP

Tesfay (C) sits with his wife and grandchildren as they receive food assistance for the first time in 8 months from the WFP, in Adi Mehameday, western Tigray region of Ethiopia, on May 28, 2022. (AP photo)

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

August 18, 2022 (NAIROBI) – Ethiopia on Thursday denied Tigray’s allegations that government forces attacked its positions in violation of a truce committed by both warring parties last March.

Addis Ababa was responding to accusations by Tigray leaders on Wednesday that their positions were attacked by government forces in the afternoon hours of Monday in Dedebit town in the western part of the Tigray Region.

“On August 15, 2022, around 4 PM local time, the Ethiopian National Defence Force, which claims to have built an impregnable fortress in Western Tigray, bombarded Tigray Army forces around Dedebit for an hour with heavy artilleries and tanks while they were engaged in their routine defensive activities,” said a statement issued by Tigray Army’s Military Command.

‘No willingness for Peace’

Getachew Reda, TPLF Spokesman, on Thursday said the Ethiopian government was not serious about a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

“The So-called Peace Committee established by the Abiy Ahmed regime is engaged in its usual game of obfuscation to hoodwink the international community while its forces are actively provoking our forces on various fronts”

He said the government has openly defied their oft-repeated promise to take measures aimed at creating a conducive environment for peaceful negotiations, such as ensuring unimpeded humanitarian access and restoration of services to Tigray.

He said that the government troops are taking “provocative actions” against their fighters.

“The Abiy Ahmed regime has made it abundantly clear that it has no appetite for peaceful negotiations except as delaying tactics (…),” he further stressed.

“Truce in place”

In a press briefing, Billene Seyoum, Prime Minister’s press secretary, downplayed the allegations.

“The narrative on this rhetoric which keeps coming from the other side is no less than a mechanism to deflect from a desire not to engage in peace talks,” Billene told journalists.

“But the humanitarian truce enacted by the government is still in place,” she added.

Last March, the Ethiopian government declared a “humanitarian truce” with Tigrayan forces to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged northern region, where millions of people face starvation.

The humanitarian cessation of hostilities by both parties raised hopes for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

Guns have largely been silenced since March after the two warring parties committed to a truce which mainly aimed to allow humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged Tigray region.

Why are talks delayed?

Today, Addis Ababa reaffirmed that it is ready to engage in peace talks without any precondition, at any venue and at any time.

Addis Ababa has however called for an official ceasefire to be signed before the resumption of any basic services to Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia which remains under a year-long blockade.

Recently, both warring parties expressed their desire to resolve the conflict peacefully.

However, conditions set by each side are dragging the talks from happening.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government insists that the African Union leads the peace process, but Tigrayan leaders want Kenya to mediate the talks.

Tigray’s leaders also insisted that halted basic services such as Electricity, banking, telecom, land and air transport, fuel and other supplies should have to be restored in Tigray before the start of any dialogue with the government.

New Peace Proposal

The government’s seven-member peace committee tasked with peace talks has unveiled a new peace proposal that it has deliberated upon and adopted.

The proposal calls to hold talks within the coming weeks without any preconditions. It further says that talks should focus first on a ceasefire agreement, followed by an in-depth political dialogue leading towards a lasting settlement.

Finally, the plan proposes to address sticky issues through the national dialogue.

The government forces have been at war with the Tigray forces since November 2020, but in recent weeks, both sides have shown a desire to resolve the conflict peacefully.