On the Government’s Commitment to the Peace Agreement ending the Conflict in Northern Ethiopia
It is to be well recalled that the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a peace agreement in South Africa on the 2nd of November 2022, ending the two-year-long conflict in northern Ethiopia. This was followed by a declaration of senior commanders of the Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF on the modalities for the implementation of the agreement on 12 November 2022.
Committed to implementing the full contents of the agreement and the declaration, the Government of Ethiopia has initiated the task of familiarising both documents to senior members of the country’s leadership, including presidents of regions, ministers and various stakeholders. Similarly, the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) briefed the military service members on the implementation process.
Members of the Ethiopian Parliament, the diplomatic corps in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Ambassadors aboard, and staff of the Foreign Ministry have also been briefed on the contents of the agreement. In a live transmitted question time, H.E. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) addressed members of the Ethiopian parliament and assured them of Government’s commitment to implementing the peace deal. Moreover, the Government issued a directive encouraging civil servants working in media and communication to promote the peace deal.
Ethiopians across the country have overwhelmingly welcomed the peace deal. Many hope that the peace deal will relieve the Government from its preoccupation with conflicts and allow it to focus its attention on the development of the nation and the reconstruction of conflict-affected communities.
Conversely, some elements of the TPLF camp appear to be undermining the spirit of the peace deal as they make statements that would confuse the public. While the central committee of the TPLF reaffirmed support for the Agreement and cited how it would help the people of the region, TPLF sympathizers, mainly those residing abroad, are making disparaging statements against the Agreement. In fact, the senior leaders of the TPLF have clearly stated their position regarding the need to implement the agreement. However, a clear and demonstrated commitment by all parties is crucial to ensure durable peace in Ethiopia. Implementation of the entire contents of both agreements is an obligation that no party can opt out of.
Article 3 of the Agreement provides, “the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities shall include the cessation of all forms of hostile propaganda, rhetoric, and hate speech”, while Article 12 (2) of the Agreement demands, “The Parties commit not to make any unilateral statement, in any form, that could undermine the Agreement.” Therefore, all parties are required to promote the signed instruments of peace to all their supporters to ensure a permanent resolution to the conflict.
On the Next Steps in the Implementation of the Peace Agreement
As per the Declaration of the senior commanders, orientation by the commanders of both parties for their respective forces was scheduled to be completed seven days after the signing of the Declaration. The deadlines for the completion of orientations, disengagement of forces, disarmament of heavy weapons, the concurrent withdrawal of foreign, and non-ENDF forces and the completion of a detailed implementation plan for the disarmament of light weapons are all imminent. The ENDF has completed the orientation of its forces per the given schedule.
Apart from this, the monitoring and verification process, to be executed as per Article 11 of the Peace Agreement, will soon commence. Accordingly, a Joint Committee, constituting the AU High-Level Panel, the parties, and IGAD will oversee the implementation of the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities. A maximum of 10 African experts will be named to support this Joint Committee.
The African Union is expected to consult the parties regarding the named experts and the draft terms of reference for the experts to assist the Joint Committee. The Government will, then, coordinate with the African Union Commission (AUC) to finalize this monitoring and verification mechanism. It is only after consultation with the African Union Commission will the Government be able to determine areas of support from partners. When the need to implement this monitoring and verification mechanism necessitates technical and logistical support, partners will provide resources at the request of the parties.
The Government will work closely with the AUC to expedite the operationalization of the monitoring and verification mechanism. In order for peace to hold, strict implementation of the instruments in action and word is essential. Partners must not overlook the growing mixed signals from the TPLF supporters as to the implementation of the agreement. Regardless of this, the Government will continue to faithfully implement the Agreement and the Declaration.
On Humanitarian Assistance and Restoration of Services
The Ethiopian Disaster and Risk Management Commission has begun delivering food assistance in different areas of the Tigray region. Medicine and related items have been delivered to Shire Town in three rounds. These deliveries have allowed health centres and Hospitals to resume services in Shire areas. The Ministry of Health has dispatched 14 health professionals to Shire Town to provide medical services and undertake a need assessment. The assessment has covered the Shire Hospital and three other health centres. Accordingly, 411 of the 520 health workers at the Shire Hospital have returned to work. The Hospital has started its outpatient, inpatient, emergency, laboratory, and pharmacy services. Delivery to other health centres continues imminently.
In areas not covered by the Government, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has delivered 33.9 metric tons of medicine and related necessities. Others such as the World Food Program (WFP) have resumed distributing food, medicine and essential goods to Mekelle and other parts of the region.
Apart from ensuring humanitarian provision, the Government is working to deliver on its commitment to restoring services across the Region. In fact, the restoration of services started in some secured parts of the region even before the signing of the agreement. Repair works on major electricity substations connecting the Region to the national grid have been going on. Telecom services have resumed in areas where power connection has been re-established. In other areas, repair work is underway to reconnect power. Now that the peace agreement provides the required guarantee for the safety of service operators, the government will be able to fully deliver on its responsibility of restoring services in all towns in Tigray and the neighbouring Amhara and Afar Regions. The government welcomes the readiness of partners to contribute to this reconstruction effort.
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