Ethiopia: Tigrayan rebels prepare in South Africa for peace talks

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The Ethiopian government has announced that it has come to South Africa for peace talks with the Ethiopian government on Monday to find a solution to the two-year war in northern Ethiopia.

The federal government delegation left Addis Ababa in the morning, the government’s communication service announced on Twitter, saying that these talks, under the aegis of the AU, are “an opportunity to peacefully resolve the conflict and consolidate the improvement of the situation on the ground”. made possible by the sacrifices of the army.

Tigray rebels and the federal army, backed by forces from neighboring Ethiopian regions and the army of Eritrea, the country bordering Tigray, have been fighting since November 2020 in a deadly conflict that has plunged northern Ethiopia into deep humanitarian crisis.

A spokesman for the rebel authorities in Tigray, Kindeya Gebrehiwot, announced the arrival of a delegation on Twitter overnight. He also repeated the rebels’ demands for an “immediate cessation of hostilities, unhindered humanitarian access and withdrawal of Eritrean forces”.

The previous talks, convened in early October in South Africa by the AU, had fizzled out before they even started, amid organizational problems.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the war “would end and peace would prevail.” “We are not going to continue fighting indefinitely,” he said, without mentioning the upcoming talks and as the ruling forces have recently intensified their offensive in Tigray.

After a five-month lull, fighting resumed on August 24. Ethiopian and Eritrean forces seized Shire, one of Tigray’s main cities, last week.

A humanitarian source told AFP that heavy fighting was taking place on Friday in Selekelka, between Shire and Aksum, another major city in Tigray and a World Heritage Site.

The international community has been alarmed by the recent escalation in fighting.

The UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council held meetings on the issue on Friday.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the meetings “demonstrate the international community’s deep concern” and renewed US calls to resume humanitarian aid and withdraw troops from Eritrea.

The war began in November 2020 when Abiy Ahmed sent the army to Tigray to dislodge regional authorities who challenged his authority and accused them of attacking military bases.

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