Ethiopia and Tigray in fresh military clashes
Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Ethiopia and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) blamed each other for fresh military clashes. Thus the fragile ceasefire is being tested. Hence, restraint is needed on all sides – while honest brokers seek conditions for lasting peace.
Selamawit Kassa, a spokesperson for the government of Ethiopia, told Voice of America that “The federal government has full confidence in the African Union and its high commissioner assigned to cover the peace talks. There is no plausible reason for Ethiopia to look for other entities to broker the peace efforts.”
However, the TPLF claims that the African Union is biased toward the central government of Ethiopia. Thus, the TPLF wants Kenya to mediate to a higher level between both hostile forces.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia went to the frontline last year when the nation was in a perilous situation – concerning the military conflict. Ethiopian forces were galvanized by this and began to regain control of areas under the TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). However, recent ethnic massacres – for example, 230 mainly Amhara were killed in the state of Oromia – are unleashing deep hatred and mistrust.
The TPLF doesn’t trust the African Union. Thus the TPLF wants Kenya or democratic nations outside of Africa to involve themselves. Yet, Ethiopia is adamant that the peace process should come under the auspices of the African Union.
Reuters reports, “Fighting between forces from Ethiopia’s rebellious northern region of Tigray and central government forces have erupted around the town of Kobo, residents and both sides said on Wednesday, ending a months-long ceasefire.“
AFP reports, “The two sides disagree on who should lead negotiations, and the TPLF also insists basic services must be restored to Tigray’s six million people before dialogue can begin.”
William Davison (Ethiopia analyst for the International Crisis Group) is adamant that both sides need to meet face-to-face. If not, Davison fears “a return to full-blown war”
Davison uttered, “This serious breach of the truce agreed earlier this year demonstrates the need for the two parties to arrange unconditional face-to-face negotiations as soon as these hostilities cease. It is also a deafening warning to the key international and regional actors that they must immediately ensure peace talks actually occur.”
The international community that holds positive relations with either side – must insist on both sides talking openly. If not, a fresh spark intended or unintended could lead to the resumption of this brutal war.
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