Tigray rebels accused by Ethiopia of refusing to engage in peace talks
The Ethiopian government accused Tigrayan rebels of being uninterested in pursuing peace talks to try to end the region's catastrophic 21-month battle.
The Ethiopian government accused Tigrayan rebels on Thursday of showing no interest in holding peace negotiations to attempt to put an end to the devastating 21-month conflict in the region.
The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have both recently raised the possibility of discussions, but significant obstacles still stand in the way, and both parties continue to place blame on the other for the deadlock.
The PM's spokesperson Billene Seyoum told reporters that the government continued to call for a peaceful resolution for the conflict "despite there being not a shred of interest for peace by TPLF" adding that "If TPLF genuinely care for the wellbeing of Ethiopians in the Tigray region they should... sit for talks instead of looking for excuses to avoid peace."
The two factions are at odds about who should lead of any negotiations, and the TPLF believes that before talks can start, the region's six million residents must have access to basic amenities.
Seyoum argued that "The issue of restoration of services comes up again and again as if there is an on and off switch."
Due to the violence that broke out in November 2020, Tigray is now experiencing severe food shortages and lacks access to essential services including banking, power, and communications.
In Tigray and the nearby provinces of Afar and Amhara, untold numbers of people have been slain and millions require humanitarian aid.
A government committee had called for an official armistice on Wednesday in order to allow the restoration of services as part of a peace plan it intended to present to the African Union (AU).
Seyoum added that there needed to be a "secure environment" for federal service providers to operate inside Tigray, but that the ceasefire and the problem of essential services were "two separate items."
Furthermore, Billene said that "At the moment with a vocally belligerent and illegally armed group operating at its own whim and refusing to accept peace talks, the required enabling and secure environment is lacking."
The Ethiopian government also criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus following comments, on Wednesday, calling the Tigray situation the "worst disaster on Earth," and cited racism as a cause to why the situation ranked behind Ukraine in terms of international attention.
Tedros has been accused, by the Ethiopian government of endorsing the TPLF and Seyoum added that Tedros was "using the race card and (his) multilateral position to garner the sympathy of the global North for... personal partisan politics", and called his conduct "unbecoming for a such high-profile position".
Getachew Reda, a spokesperson for the TPLF, responded to the demand for a truce by accusing the government of "obfuscation" and said that its soldiers were "actively provoking our forces on various fronts."
Since a ceasefire was announced in northern Ethiopia at the end of March, fighting has subsided, allowing convoys of badly needed foreign relief to Tigray to resume after a three-month hiatus.
Ahmed said that Olusegun Obasanjo, the African Union's representative to the Horn of Africa, must be led the international effort to bring about peace, while the rebels want departing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to act as a mediator.