The TPLF announced that it is ready to start peace talks ahead of the upcoming United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday regarding the situation in Ethiopia
In the weeks before the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) started its third round of military attack against Ethiopia in late August, the Ethiopian government and international actors were working on an African Union-led peace talk which was expected to happen in Kenya.
TPLF leaders published an article on “The African Report” just two days before they started the new offensive saying that the AU-led peace talk will not succeed.
Today, after three weeks of intense fighting on four fronts and an estimated loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, the TPLF issued a statement announcing its readiness for African Union-led peace talks “without delay.”
As always, the TPLF wrote the statement presenting itself as the government of Tigray. It is a reminder that the war is between the federal government of Ethiopia and a well-armed group that considers itself the government of Tigray despite that the Ethiopian parliament designated the latter as a terrorist group.
“…It is the Government of Tigray’s solemn desire to see Ethiopian’s in general and the people of Tigray in particular to no longer hear the sound of gunfire, the blockade of essential services and humanitarian aid and the associated pain and suffering…
To that end the Government of Tigray is prepared to participate in a robust peace process under the auspices of the African Union (AU)…,” it said.
The statement also said that it has set up a negotiating team but announced only two names: General Tsadkan Gebretensae and Getachew Reda.
General Tsadkan was a retired military general and was at one point the commander-in-chief of the Ethiopian Defense Force at the time when the TPLF was the dominant political force. Later, there were reports that he fell out with the TPLF, and was presenting himself as a neutral and non-partisan politician acting as a broker between TPLF and the Federal government after the former lost dominant power in the Federal government in 2018.
Later, when the TPLF started the war in November 2020 by attacking the Ethiopian Defense Force, Tsadkan apparently had a part in the plot and emerged as the commander of what TPLF calls Tigray Defense Force.
Getachew Reda had served as Minister in the Federal government before he retreated to Mekelle along with the TPLF leaders. Since the war, he has been mostly acting as a member of “Tigray Command Post” and spokesperson of the party.
The rest of the TPLF negotiation team members are yet to be disclosed. Earlier this week, the TPLF made accusations that Ethiopian and Eritrean forces are attacking Tigrayan positions including a claim to the shelling of Adigrat.
A purportedly intercepted radio communication between TPLF force commanders this week revealed that the rebel forces are in disarray to the point that some military commanders think that the military mission has failed.
Since the reported TPLF military loss, the United States renewed pressure on the Ethiopian government demanding an end to the military conflict and the start of peace talks. U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, was in Ethiopia this week and there is no indication if he has returned to the United States.
The Ethiopian government has not responded to the latest TPLF statement.
TPLF new position
The TPLF rush to renew the military conflict is apparently counterproductive on its part.
There is credible information from local sources that the TPLF has lost fortified positions in Adarkai, Maytebri and Telemet in the west and much of its strategically significant military positions in the Waghumra are lost.
Announcement of TPLF readiness to start AU-led negotiation is a new position. Because three weeks ago, as indicated above, the designated terrorist group declared that the negotiation would be a failure and ventured to military operation right away.
Another change in position is that TPLF announced preconditions that were set for the peace talk about a few months ago, including the question of who is to mediate, are no longer there.
In fact, it is saying that it wants agreed upon additional international mediators – not its own choice. Two months ago, it was saying it wants the United States and the European Union to be part of the negotiation.
Call for disarming TPLF
Ethiopian activists and politicians, including some members of the ruling party, are calling for the TPLF to totally disarm before any peace talks.
Taye Dendea is a top ruling party (Prosperity Party) official.
In a twitter message on Sunday, he wrote “I hear that TPLF is ready for peace talks led by the AU. Nice development. But there should be no mistakes. In a nation there is only one defense force. It is an international principle. We can’t bypass it! The so called TDF must be disarmed before peace talks start. Clear stand!”
Mesenbet Assefa, attorney and law professor at AAU, warns about the negation. He said: “The TPLF has announced that they will accept the AU-led negotiation. But we must be cautious, the only way forward from now is to disarm TPLF and accept a peaceful political process in Ethiopia. They have done enough damage. #EthiopiaPrevails ”
Ethiopian activists have been campaigning, on social media platforms, pushing for disarming the designated terrorist group – TPLF. #DisarmTPLF has been trending on Twitter for many months now.
However, the United States and its allies have been tacit, but persistent in supporting the TPLF forces including under the guise of the humanitarian operation in Tigray and human rights protection.
Politically and diplomatically these powers have been putting pressure on Ethiopia including by exploiting UN platforms. They even introduced action regimes soon after the TPLF started to lose militarily. Russia and China repeatedly vetoed moves to introduce further sanctions against Ethiopia.
After TPLF’s disastrous failure to recapture power in the central government, many Ethiopians tend to see U.S. government support for the TPLF with the move to support the emergence of a U.S. vassal state in North Ethiopia.
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