Ethiopia calls for formal ceasefire with Tigray rebels
The government in Ethiopia calls for a quick formal Tigray ceasefire agreement to allow the resumption of basic services to the northern region.
The Ethiopian government called Wednesday for a formal Tigray ceasefire agreement as soon as possible to enable resuming basic services to the war-torn northern region.
In June, a committee was established to discuss the possibility of talks with Tigrayan rebels. It said it had drawn up a "peace proposal" to try to stop the war that started in November 2020.
The committee's announcement came the same day the World Health Organisation (WHO) called the situation in Tigray the "worst disaster on Earth".
The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) dismissed the committee's call as "obfuscation", saying the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had shown no interest in dialogue.
"In order to ensure a sustained provision of humanitarian aid as well as to facilitate the resumption of basic services and also to resolve the conflict peacefully; the committee has underscored that there is a need to conclude a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible," the Ethiopian peace committee stated, adding, "To expedite this process, the committee has deliberated upon and adopted a peace proposal that would lead to the conclusion of a ceasefire and lay the foundation for future political dialogue."
The TPLF has long insisted that before beginning the dialogue, basic services would have to be restored to the region.
Since the declaration of the truce at the end of March, the fighting has eased in northern Ethiopia, allowing the resumption of the much-needed international aid convoys to Tigray after a 3-month break.
Ethiopia's northernmost region has suffered significant food shortages and has no access to basic services such as electricity, banking, and communications.
Meanwhile, the peace committee said it would submit its peace proposal to the African Union (AU), which has been leading the push to end the war that killed untold numbers of people and kept millions in need of humanitarian aid.
"All effort is being exerted in collaboration with the African Union so that it would be possible to determine the venue and time for talks and to begin peace talks quickly and to conclude a ceasefire agreement shortly," it said.
Abiy's government says that any negotiation must be led by the AU's Horn of Africa envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, but the rebels want outgoing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to mediate.
Unimaginable cruelty must end
TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda accused the government of "obfuscation" and said its forces were "actively provoking" their forces on various fronts.
"They have openly defied their oft-repeated promise to take measures aimed at creating a conducive environment for peaceful negotiations such as ensuring unfettered humanitarian access and restoration of services to Tigray," he said on Twitter.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is from Tigray, described Wednesday the "man-made catastrophe" there as the "worst disaster on Earth" and slammed global leaders for being silent on the humanitarian crisis.
"This unimaginable cruelty must end. The only solution is peace," he said at a press conference in Geneva.
In November 2020 Abiy ordered troops into Tigray to topple the TPLF, accusing the rebels of attacking federal army camps.
In June of last year, the TPLF staged a surprise return, retaking Tigray and moving into adjacent Afar and Amhara before the conflict came to a halt.