The Brief October 2022

14 Oct 2022

On Ethiopia’s Unwavering Commitment to the AU-led Peace Process

The government of Ethiopia expressed for the umpteenth time its commitment to resolving the conflict with the Tigray rebel group peacefully through the auspices of the African Union. This commitment is founded on Ethiopia’s longstanding confidence in the organisation’s potential to resolve this conflict peacefully. Ethiopia believes that the principle of “finding African Solutions to African Problems” shall dictate the policies of those involved in the conflict and those advocating for a negotiated peace.

Conversely, the TPLF has been averting any AU-led mediation efforts. As was clearly noted in the previous editions of The Brief, the rebel group had been blatantly attacking the AU-led peace effort with TPLF’s spokesperson taking the assault to the media. In an attempt to undermine the ongoing peace effort, he issued on 22nd August 2022 a denigrating article against the leadership of the African Union and the High Representative for the Horn of Africa. That demonstrated TPLF’s antipathy towards a genuine negotiated peace.

The rebels have now expressed, albeit disingenuously, their readiness to engage through the African Union. However, they are yet to clearly testify their commitment to working with the High Representative. Their late acceptance of the AU as a mediator is rhetorical and is intended to hoodwink the international community.

Consistent in its commitment to peace, the government of Ethiopia accepted the AU’s invitation for a peace talk in the Republic of South Africa on the 8th of October 2022, despite it being postponed. On the other hand, the TPLF in its response to this invitation complained about the lack of consultation by the AU prior to the issuance of the invitation. yet, the AU clearly stated in its letter that the invitation was built on “the continuous consultation with the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), within the context of the ongoing African Union (AU)- led peace process for Ethiopia.” Hence, the claim by the TPLF of lack of consultations is flawed.

The meeting was hoped, had it not been postponed, to deliberate on the guiding principles, agenda issues, modalities, format, and timelines for a negotiated settlement, laying the foundation for a structured and sustained mediation between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF toward a durable resolution of the conflict. As always, the government of Ethiopia stands ready to engage the African Union and cooperate on ways to make the peace process effective.

Despite such observable commitments on the part of the Government of Ethiopia to end the conflict peacefully, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a both-siding Joint Statement on 12 October 2022. The government believes that such statements will only complicate the situation by emboldening the rebels. The only solution to the conflict is not to draw parallels between the Federal Government and the TPLF but to call the latter for what it is and pressure it to negotiate without preconditions.

On the Mandate Renewal of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia/ ICHREE 

On 7 October 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council narrowly passed a resolution renewing the mandate of the infamous International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia/ ICHREE. The resolution was adopted by a margin of two votes, with 21 Members of the Council voting in favour, 7 in abstention and 19 in opposition. Taking the abstentions into account, it can rightly be assumed that the resolution bears little credibility. Those who voted in opposition and abstention rebuffed undue political interference in the internal affairs of Ethiopia in the name of human rights. All African countries excluding Malawi rejected the resolution.

While recognizing the overwhelming support received at the Council, Ethiopia vehemently rejects the resolution for it undermines the works, legitimacy, and capacity of national institutions that are working to appropriately address all alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.

It is clear that the principle of subsidiarity is fundamental to any internationally mandated human rights investigations. However, The ICHREE is not disposed to do this in Ethiopia but to levy political pressure.  Its recent investigation report proves this depressing fact. The findings and conclusions of the report hardly appear to have been informed by actual verification of data – but greatly resemble a ‘rough-patching of news columns and informational pieces’ that have been availed to the public through various outlets. This becomes more visible when one examines the contents of the report with greater technical insight.

The Government of Ethiopia is committed to investigating allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the conflict and ensuring accountability. The Government devised a comprehensive transitional justice plan for discussion with stakeholders. It is also committed to recording the truth and starting a process of healing and reconciliation. The National Dialogue Commission has started the inclusive national dialogue process.

Those parties that have sponsored and voted in favour of the aforementioned resolution should focus on supporting the AU-led peace process and ongoing national efforts instead of politicizing human rights. The current human rights investigation and legal proceeding by the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce is the right path to serve justice to the victims.

On False Allegation of Aerial Attack Against Civilians 

Following TPLF’s resumption of fighting on August 24, the government of Ethiopia has carried out several preventive operations targeting the TPLF’s military installations with a justified objective of neutralising their capability to attack adjacent regions and expand the conflict.

The Ethiopian National Defence Force/ ENDF conducts its preventive operation against rebel military assets with absolute precision, leaving little chance for collateral damage. But the rebel group and its external accessories are engaged in a mendacious accusation against the ENDF – claiming that civilians and civilian infrastructures have become targets of government aerial strikes. This is an absolute fabrication intended to mislead the International Community.

The reality is that the TPLF is and has been using civilian infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, worship centres and civilian properties as military depots and hideouts for its fugitive leaders.

Regardless of this, the TPLF and its affiliates are rampantly concocting lies and are slandering the Government of Ethiopia. The Director General of the World Health Organisation is among those fabricating falsehoods and misleading the international community in defence of the TPLF. Abusing his global post, he is spreading false accusations that civilians had been targets of government military operations. What is more appalling is that no one dared to reject this blatant disinformation. No one demanded the TPLF desist from using properties belonging to United Nations aid agencies. It is a plain fact that the group is commandeering over 1000 UN lorries for military purposes.

In this context, the government of Ethiopia calls upon the international community to reject the TPLF’s false accusations and to urge it to walk its talk to the negotiation table.

On Unfettered Humanitarian Access to the Tigray, Amhara and Afar Regions 

Ethiopia is committed to upholding its responsibility under international humanitarian law. Having declared an indefinite humanitarian truce on March 24, the government had been facilitating the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Tigray region until the TPLF reignited the third round of the conflict on August 24. On the contrary, the TPLF stole and diverted fuel and other humanitarian supplies for military purposes. It is appalling that such humanitarian crime is disregarded and perpetrators are allowed to get away with impunity.

Although humanitarian delivery is near impossible in areas where the conflict is active, the government of Ethiopia is still ready to find practical ways of reaching people in need of urgent assistance. It will continue to work with the UNOCHA and other international actors to provide humanitarian assistance to the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions.

Moreover, the Government is committed to ensuring the safety of humanitarian workers and is carefully coordinating with relevant agencies to evacuate those who wish to leave areas dangerous for their safety.

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