The Ethiopian government led by Abiy Ahmed Ali announced on Wednesday the creation of a committee for negotiations that could reach a peace agreement with Tigray. This is the first time that the Ethiopian Prime Minister has mentioned the possibility of negotiating peace with the rebel group that took up arms in November 2020 in Tigray, the northernmost region of the country. The committee will be led by the First Deputy Minister, Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, and it is expected that within ten or fifteen days a road map will be established that determines the end of a conflict that It has already claimed around 500,000 lives between the fighting, the massacres perpetrated by the factions involved and the famine that Tigray has suffered since the beginning of the conflict. Ahmed Ali assured in a press conference that “there is no simple negotiation path” and reiterated that it still “needs time”.
The creation of this committee comes as a response to the open letter that the leader of the Tigray government published on June 13. In the letter, addressed to Macky Sall (rotating president of the African Union and president of Senegal), Uhuru Kenyatta (president of Kenya), Mohamed bin Zayed (president of the United Arab Emirates) and Samia Suluhu (president of Tanzania), in addition to various leaders of the UN, the EU and the United States, the rebels offer the option of starting a new round of negotiations, although they warn beforehand that “this does not mean that there is a change in the position” which led the Tigrayans to take up arms in the first place. He appeals to African leaders to participate as intermediaries and appeals to their “impartiality” in the matter.
Human rights violations
It is unknown if the creation of this new committee will have effective results, although it is the first gesture towards reconciliation carried out by the Ethiopian government, which has been repeatedly accused of violating the human rights of the civilian population in Tigray. For example, the Red Cross was banned from entering Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, between September 2021 and January 2022; Amhara regional forces linked to the central government have been accused of engaging in “ethnic cleansing” against the Tigrayans; power and communication outages have occurred throughout the affected region; the Ethiopian Army has participated, according to various NGOs and sources on the ground, in rapes of women and summary executions of Tigrayan men. The list goes on. The wounds of the conflict in Tigray deepen with every cry, with every shot that escapes, becoming more difficult every day to suture.
The Tigray war is currently the most violent conflict on the African continent. What started as a armed uprising to counter political isolationism suffered by the Tigray Popular Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controlled Ethiopian politics for almost 30 years, has led to a conflict with ethnic overtones and unpredictable results. Numerous personalities have demanded that the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded in 2019 be withdrawn from Abiy Ahmed Ali, while it is feared that the real numbers of victims in the conflict may never be known.