TPLF has yet to announce negotiators for talks with the Ethiopian government and the points it wants to achieve from the negotiation
About two months ago, preparation to respond to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)’s extensive mobilization to undertake another round of military campaigns heightened both at the Federal government level and in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was travelling to different military bases in the northern parts of Ethiopia on the occasions of the Easter Holidays. His message on every front was “be ready.”
Yet, there had been rumours of secret negotiation between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the TPLF leaders. The government was not confirming or denying it.
When he appeared at the Ethiopian Parliament about two weeks ago, he made it public in a presentable way to the parliamentarians.
He made it appear as something to be figured out yet but announced that a committee was already established to work on negotiation.
Earlier this week, after the central committee and executive committee meeting of the ruling Prosperity Party, it announced what it called “principles” for the negotiation process. “Respect for the constitutional order,” “Respect for fundamental national interest” and “The role of the African Union as the facilitator of the process.” (Watch video below)
In mid-June this year, the TPLF, in an open letter addressed to the African Union Chairperson, expressed interest for the “U.S government, European Union, the United Arab Emirates, and the African Union to be part of the negotiation. “
As reflected in the stated “principles,” the Ethiopian government does not seem to accept any mediation of entities other than the African Union.
However, there have been reports, although not confirmed or denied on the part of the ruling party, that the United States and the European Union started to relax sanctions on Ethiopia, which they introduced right after the TPLF lost the war in January 2021, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed released top TPLF leaders who were captured during the military operation and agreed to negotiate with the TPLF, for which the U.S. government and its European allies were pushing.
In the latest explainer statement from the government, the peace initiative was necessary because the war was an imposed one and that “peace” is important for the “reform” measures, which the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government introduced, to succeed, among other reasons. The TPLF did reject what the ruling party says “reform” including on grounds of ideological difference as the former still aspires to adhere to “revolutionary democracy.”
The Ethiopian government has called on Ethiopians from all walks of life to support the peace initiative.
And this week, the names of members of the negotiating team were announced. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonen, is the leader of the team.
Gedion Timotios (Minister for Justice), Temesgen Tiruneh ( Director of Ethiopia’s Intelligence ), Ambassador Redwan Hussien (now serving as security advisor to PM Abiy Ahmed), Let. General Berhanu Bekele (was head of the Republican Guard) and Getachew Jember ( senior official in Amhara regional state) and Ambassador Hassan Abdulkadir are members of the team.
The TPLF is yet to announce its negotiation team members. It has not officially announced the issues that it is negotiating for too.
Although the organisation has expressed acceptance of proposed peace talks, there are still reports that preparation for war is still underway.
On Wednesday, the Ethiopian Defence Force released images of some ethnic Tigreans who surrendered to the Western Command. One of them is 60 years old and he revealed that the TPLF is still making preparations.
The next steps of the negotiation are unclear. Where it is going to take place is unknown too. Based on the open letter that the TPLF wrote this month, it is going to be either in Kenya or Tanzania.
When the Ethiopian government tabled the proposed budget for the next fiscal year in the parliament, it said that it was prepared with the assumption, among other things, that the war in the northern part of the country will end peacefully.
The war started in November 2020 when the TPLF forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Force with the aim to control power in Addis Ababa again.
TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades until it was pushed aside in 2018 following three years of prevalent protest in Ethiopia.
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