The Brief 24.03.2023

24 Mar 2023

The Progress and Implementation of the Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities

It is to be recalled that the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in Pretoria, South Africa on November 02, 2022, and later the Implementation Declaration in Nairobi, Kenya. Concurrently, the Government of Ethiopia has continued to deliver on its commitment to implement the peace agreement.

Over the week, the House of Peoples Representatives have decided to delist TPLF from terrorist designation by a majority vote, which resonates with the form and spirit of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), where the recent move showcased one of the several strong confidence building measures stipulated in the provisions of the agreement. In addition, former spokesperson of TPLF, Getachew Reda has been appointed by the Prime Minister as the President of the Interim Administration of Tigray, which has been widely viewed as yet another positive development in the course of the implementation of the Pretoria Peace Deal.

Moreover, the first national consultation on demobilization and reintegration was held in Tigray’s capital, Mekelle on March 09, 2023. The meeting which brought together members of the National Rehabilitation Council (NRC) and representatives from relevant federal institutions including the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR), Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the African union as well as Ambassadors, Heads of Development Cooperation, and other senior staff from development partners. The meeting reviewed the draft national Demobilization and Reintegration Program (NDRP). The NDRP will be instrumental in the demobilization and reintegration efforts of close to 250, 000 ex-combatants. This will further build on the ongoing national efforts of consolidating peace in the region.

In mid-March 2023, US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken paid a two-day working visit to Ethiopia, during which, discussions focussed on the consolidation of progress on implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA). In such score, the US Secretary of State commended the speedy implementation of the Peace Agreement. The US Secretary of State expressed his optimism toward the implementation of the Pretoria Peace Agreement, adding that the peace in Northern Ethiopia is taking hold and continues to move forward. The Government of Ethiopia assured the US Secretary of State its continued commitment to ensure the full implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA).

Humanitarian Assistance and Restoration of Services 

Following the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in Pretoria, the provision of humanitarian aid has significantly improved, and major essential services have also been maintained and restored. So far, the Government of Ethiopia, along with humanitarian partners, has been delivering humanitarian assistance and restoring essential services across the Tigray region.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken also recognized the remarkable progress in providing humanitarian access to those in conflict-affected areas in the Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions. He similarly noted, with satisfaction, the resumption of basic services in Tigray and neighbouring regions.

However, challenges still remain in rehabilitating and reconstructing infrastructures destroyed by the conflict, including schools, health, and other public facilities. The Government is working round-the-clock to address the climate change-induced drought and conflict-related humanitarian crisis in different parts of the country given that around 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The amount of damage caused by the conflict roughly stands at 22 billion USD. As national resources are not enough to address these challenges, international support is required for rehabilitation and reconstruction works in the conflict-affected areas of northern Ethiopia.

Issues of Accountability 

It is to be recalled that the “Agreement for Lasting Peace Through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities” signed in Pretoria by the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front to end the two-year war in the country’s north calls for an inclusive and comprehensive national transitional justice policy centred on accountability, truth seeking, redress for victims, and reconciliation and healing.

Accordingly, the Government remains firmly committed to addressing allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violations during the conflict within the framework of the peace agreement. On March 6, 2023, a nationwide public consultation was conducted on “Policy Options for Transitional Justice”, bringing together senior government officials, members of the House of Peoples Representative, and key stake holders from various civil society organizations and contending political parties.

The draft document was first released for stakeholder consultations in January of this year as per the findings of a rigorous study conducted by scores of experts. As clearly stipulated in the policy document, transitional justice is a process that seeks to build a system of sustainable peace, reconciliation, stability, and rule of law by breaking with a past culture of atrocities and injustices. Dealing effectively with past violations using transitional justice mechanisms contributes to the advancement of rule of law and sustainable peace.

The Government of Ethiopia strongly believes that there is a perennial need to foster the germinal seeds of transitional justice in Ethiopia in order to consolidate the dividends of the peace process across the country. In fact, Ethiopia is a nation with heterogeneous yet shared value systems and requires the concerted effort of its citizenry to resolve disagreements through mutual understanding and dialogue.

The Government of Ethiopia will continue implementing all measures of accountability, including finalizing the nationwide consultation on transitional justice and ensuring that justice is done for all victims.

On the same note, the government also implements the Joint investigation recommendations of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) through the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce.

Negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The Government of Ethiopia is determined to reach a negotiated win-win trilateral agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), but Egypt is unnecessarily escalating tensions through the Arab League resolution, which is counterproductive.

The Arb league issued a counterproductive statement earlier this month regarding the filling and operation of the GERD. The Government of Ethiopia has made it abundantly clear that  the management and utilization of the Nile River, including the filling and operation of the GERD, must be left to the concerned parties in Africa. The League should take note that the Nile River and all the riparian countries are found in the Africa continent. The Arab League is once again serving as the spokesperson of one state, disregarding basic principles of international law. Such attempts to politicize the issue of GERD neither advance friendly relations nor support the efforts to arrive at amicable solutions, as they are not based on facts or supported by law.

An irresponsible statement was also attributed to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, threatening Ethiopia with yet another ‘all options are open’ declaration. Such a threat constitutes a flagrant breach of the United Nations Charter and Constitutive Act of the African Union. It also stands in clear violation of the Agreement on Declaration of Principles on GERD, signed on March 23, 2015, between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan.

The African Union has been facilitating the trilateral negotiations among Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt to resolve the remaining outstanding issues, guided by the maxim, “African Solutions to African Problems.” The leagues resolution and statements by Egypt call into question whether Egypt has been engaged in good faith in the negotiation under the AU’s auspices.

The Government of Ethiopia continues to fill and operate the GERD in accordance with the 2015 Agreement on the Declaration of Principles, with full respect to the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of transboundary water resources. Ethiopia strongly believes that, if approached in good faith and with full respect for principles of international law, amicable solution between the three countries is within reach under the auspices of the African union. The Government of Ethiopia, therefore, reiterates its calls on the parties to re-engage in the African Union platform and reach a negotiated solution on the GERD.

 

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