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‘War is not a solution’ – Ethiopian ex-PM welcomes peace talks between government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front

‘War is not a solution’ – Ethiopian ex-PM welcomes peace talks between government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front
Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia's then prime minister, speaks during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

SA had offered a platform to the parties in the conflict, whose peace negotiations will be led by the African Union.

Former Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn has welcomed the proposed peace negotiations between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), set to take place in South Africa.

Speaking at a press conference in Addis Ababa’s Sheraton Hotel on Friday morning, Hailemariam said he had confidence that it would go well. “War is not a solution,” he said. “Ending this conflict in a very peaceful manner is very essential.”

He said it depended on “all parties in this conflict” to deliberate “in a frank manner,” without “external interferences”. 

He said the fact that both the Ethiopian government and the TPLF have in principle agreed to take part in the talks was “a step forward”.

It would be the first time since the start of the war in December 2020 that the two sides would sit around a negotiating table, although there has been an effort at a national dialogue before. 

Eritrea, which has reportedly sent its troops across the border into Tigray after a five-month ceasefire was broken on August 24, will not be part of the negotiations. 

Hailemariam said he’s very happy that South Africa had offered a platform to the parties in the conflict, whose peace negotiations will be led by the African Union.

Hailemariam, who is a Tana Forum board member, said he was expressing his personal opinion on this at the press conference about the resumption of the annual Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, which was held virtually during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

The forum gives a platform for senior officials and experts to deliberate “frankly and without the diplomatic niceties” at play in multilateral forums about security on the continent, but it’s not meant to focus narrowly on specific countries, like Ethiopia, he said. 

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Hailemariam said he hoped Ethiopians would discuss issues to resolve their problems “without external interferences”. 

The forum is funded by the Ethiopian government as well as the German Agency for International Cooperation, the GIZ, which focuses on development work. 

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, and South Africa’s former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka are set to be involved in the mediation process. 

AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement this high-level panel of “eminent Africans” was established specifically “for the Ethiopian peace process”. 

He said he had “full confidence in the vast experience and leadership capacity of the distinguished panel members to ensure constructive engagements and dialogue between the parties towards a sustainable, inclusive negotiated settlement to the conflict in Northern Ethiopia”. 

He also gave a nod to “partners” in this process “for their continued value-adding support to the AU-led process”, without saying whether he was referring to the likes of the United States, which has been monitoring the conflict closely.

He said he “encourages them to strengthen the partnership with the AU to achieve lasting peace in Ethiopia”. 

The talks were originally scheduled to take place this weekend, but Peter Fabricius reports that it is likely to be postponed until later in the month, according to a government source. It is unclear what the reason for the postponement is, but it is likely that the Tigrayan forces are waiting for clarification on who the participants, observers and guarantors would be in the process. 

Mahamat’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation on this. 

While the Ethiopian government accuses the TPLF of trying to reassert Tigrayan dominance over Ethiopia, as it had before prime minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, the TPLF says the Tigray region wants more independence. They have also claimed that they are being oppressed by Abiy’s government. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    Good news. We need to see more of this in Africa. We need to move forward as a continent. Peace means stability and is the building blocks for a progressive future together.

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