The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced earlier this week that Wolkait is not negotiable and that it has to be “returned to the Tigray.” Ethiopian PM says “we have to be ready to pay a price for peace if there is any.”
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday confirmed much talk about unanounced government’s negotiation with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) when he told the Ethiopian Parliament that his government is working on peace negotiation.
The government has been denying for a long time now that there was no negotiation with the TPLF although the African Union envoy for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, had been shuttling between Addis Ababa and Mekele meeting TPLF leaders and Ethiopian government officials.
Abiy Ahmed, who appeared in the Ethiopian Parliament on Tuesday, on the other hand, made it appear as if the government has not yet started negotiation with the TPLF.
“On the issue of peace,” Abiy Ahmed said during his speech at the parliament, ” a committee has been established.”
He did not however disclose what the points of negotiations are. He said the committee, which is headed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonen, will study the points and make them public.
“The government is working to resolve the problems in a way that the interest of the people is protected,” Mr. Abiy added.
However, he also sounded equivocal when he said that his government is “ready to pay anything for peace.”
The TPLF has been claiming Wolkait, which used to be part of the Gondar region of Ethiopia before the TPLF incorporated it as part of Tigray after it took power with the support of the U.S. government in 1991, as a non-negotiable territorial claim.
The U.S. government has been supporting the TPLF claim as it had been repeatedly calling for the withdrawal of Amhara special forces from what it called, just like TPLF, “western Tigray.”
The TPLF also has territorial claims over Raya, another area that used to be what is now the Amhara region of Ethiopia, which has recently been missing from conversation.
Before the recent rapprochement, the U.S. government introduced a series of sanctions against Ethiopia, including banning Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) export trade arrangement, as a tool to put pressure on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in what appeared to be a move to tacitly support TPLF.
In early January 2022, apparently, just a day after a phone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government released top TPLF leaders who were captured during a military operation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia in January 2021.
In March 2022, the Ethiopian government announced a humanitarian truce although the TPLF forces continued to control parts of the Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia.
The United States and the European Union had been accusing the Ethiopian government of blocking humanitarian access to the Tigray region of Ethiopia. There was even a claim about “genocide” in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
The war in northern Ethiopia started in November 2020 when the TPLF attacked the Northern Command Post of the Ethiopian Defence Force in what was said to be a preemptive strike.
The TPLF has been engaged in extensive militarization and defied the Federal government at least for over a year before finally attacking the Northern Command Post.
The attack was reversed in a matter of three weeks in what the government called at the time “law enforcement operation.”
However, the Federal government withdrew forces from the Tigray region which subsequently led to devastating TPLF military operations into the Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia.
Millions of people were displaced. Thousands of people, including women and children, were killed and millions were reduced to a famine-like situation.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s officially announced plan to negotiate with the TPLF, the regional government in the Amhara region mounted a crackdown on FANO, local militia, under the guise of law enforcement operation.
Many Ethiopians who expressed an opinion about it on social media think it was a crackdown ordered by Abiy Ahmed’s government. However, the regional government says the operation was free from internal or external influence.
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