The Peace Agreement Ending the Conflict in Northern Ethiopia
The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a peace agreement in South Africa on November 2, ending the two-year-long conflict in northern Ethiopia. The peace deal has solidified the historic victory gained on the ground by gallant Ethiopians. The peace deal will be monumental in moving Ethiopia forward on the path of the reforms the new leadership initiated four and a half years ago.
The African Union Commission Chairperson is to be commended for his visionary leadership in appointing former President of Nigeria H.E. Obasanjo and later forming a High-level Panel with the support of H.E. former President Kenyatta of Kenya and former deputy President, H.E Dr Phumzile of South Africa to facilitate the peace talks. Some quarters openly doubted whether the AU had the capacity to lead the process to a successful conclusion. Regardless, the AU convened and led the talks to a successful conclusion. The AU will continue to play an instrumental role in the implementation of the Agreement through the High-level Panel and through African experts to monitor the cessation of hostilities.
The terms of the agreement are in tandem with Ethiopia’s steadfast position for peace without compromising the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation. The agreement has the following objectives (Article 1):
- Reach an immediate permanent cessation of hostilities with a view of silencing the guns, and creating a conducive environment for laying the foundation for sustainable peace;
- Restore the constitutional order disrupted due to the conflict in the Tigray Region;
- Reject violence as a method of resolving political differences;
- Guarantee security for all;
- Ensure a lasting settlement for all;
- Provide a framework for addressing matters arising out of the conflict;
- Provide a framework to ensure accountability for matters arising out of the conflict;
- Foster reconciliation and rehabilitation of social bonds;
- Facilitate economic recovery and reconstruction;
- Commit to addressing the underlying political differences;
- Provide a framework for monitoring and verification of the implementation of the agreement
With these objectives, the Federal Government and the TPLF have laid down a comprehensive peace deal and agreed to ensure sustained peace in the Tigray Region. The agreement further details essential steps to ensure peace and stability. These include a declaration of an immediate and permanent cessation of hostilities; protection of human rights of civilian populations; provision of humanitarian access to vulnerable communities; implementation of a comprehensive Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration/DDR for TPLF combatants; implementation of confidence-building measure by both parties; restoration of federal authority in the Tigray region and representation in Federal institutions; implementation of transitional measures including accountability; and setting up a verification, monitoring and compliance mechanism.
The peace agreement has effectively addressed the fundamental contradictions that caused the conflict in the first place. One of the contradictions was TPLF’s conduct of an unconstitutional regional election in September 2020. The agreement resolves this issue as it provides for the establishment of an Inclusive Interim Regional Administration in the Tigray Region through political dialogue pending elections for the Regional Council and the Federal Parliament under the supervision of the Ethiopian National Election Board. This ensures Tigray’s regional status within the federal system while recognizing the federal government’s mandate in the Tigray Region. However, this is contingent upon the TPLF’s demonstrated commitment to the provisions of the agreement, notably permanent cessation of hostilities and disarmament. The Federal government shall then facilitate the lifting of the terrorist designation of the TPLF by the Federal Parliament, which will enable the party to run as a legal political entity within the country.
In accordance with the terms of the agreement, Senior commanders from both sides have met in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, since November 7 to deliberate on modalities for implementing the peace agreement. According to the African Union Commission the meeting “builds on the establishment of a hotline by the parties within 24 hours of signing the agreement to facilitate communication between senior commanders of both sides”. The meeting discusses and works out detailed modalities for implementing the agreement including disarmament issues.
Furthermore, committed to implementing the peace agreement, His Excellency Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) convened senior government officials and Regional presidents over the week to discuss the steps to be taken going forward. The Prime Minister instructed attendees to cherish and support the peace process. Government structures at all levels will need to focus on the dividends of peace as the agreement closes this conflict peacefully. Moreover, various teams have been organised to expedite efforts of rehabilitation and reconstruction and to undergo public and diplomatic engagements.
Accordingly, 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. 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.
Similarly, the government is coordinating with humanitarian agencies in providing humanitarian supplies to the Tigray region. UNOCHA has received assurances from the government to facilitate the delivery of supplies into all parts of the Tigray region. With the meeting of the military commanders in Nairobi, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) is likely to take over Mekelle, including the airport, which will create a conducive environment to continue expediting aid to all those in need of assistance. The ENDF shall also be deployed along the international borders of Ethiopia including those separating Tigray from the rest of the world.
Many lauded the peace deal and the commitment of both parties to silencing the guns and resetting Ethiopia on a path of peace. Ethiopians and fellow Africans wholeheartedly welcomed this outcome, expressing their pride that the peace process was led by the African Union. Many partners including the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union expressed their optimism and commitment to supporting the process. They have also pledged to stand ready to work alongside the Government of Ethiopia to support the recovery of conflict-affected areas. According to the Ministry of Finance, the resource needed to reconstruct the conflict-affected Regions (Tigray, Amhara and Afar) is estimated to be 20 billion US dollars. The Federal Government is determined to lead the effort to rebuild the region. All segments of Ethiopian society will be called on to contribute to this effort.
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