Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed’s rapprochement policy toward the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) deepening.
On Sunday Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that the implementation of the peace agreement signed in Pretoria South Africa is promising.
Today, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tagesse Chaffo, led a delegation to Mekelle. Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Telecom Ethiopia CEO, and president of Commercial Bank of Ethiopia were included in the delegation – perhaps an indication that the delegates will hold a discussion regarding the restoration of services in Mekelle.
Other senior-level government officials including the Minister for Justice (Gedion Timoteos) and Minister for Transport (Dagmawit Moges) were in the delegation too.
It is for the first time in more than two years that senior Federal government officials and TPLF leaders met in person in Ethiopia without the presence of a third party. Of course, representatives of the Ethiopian Government and the TPLF met in Pretoria for the Peace Talk.
Much of the implementation of the peace agreement, including disarming TPLF combatants, was to be completed within a month after the agreement.
But nothing happened for nearly two months and all of a sudden Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed emphasized rhetoric about peace during domestic working visits in the past two days, and today Ethiopians heard the news about the speaker of the Ethiopian Parliament being in Mekelle with dozens of Federal government officials.
The Ethiopian Parliament has not yet officially lifted TPLF’s designation as a terrorist organization.
Last week, the military commanders from Ethiopian Defense Force and TPLF leaders met in Nairobi for a second time to further discuss the implementation of the agreement.
TPLF remarks about the meeting
It was just a few days ago that the TPLF accused the Ethiopian government of not implementing the peace deal fully. It was Debretsion Gebremichael himself who made the claims when he was reporting to the “Tigray Regional Council” [ it is like a regional parliament].
His remark today, when he was holding a meeting with Federal government officials, sounds entirely different. In video footage released by state media and the regional government, he was seen hailing Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for coordinating and leading the peace effort. He said the PM deserves appreciation. He also expressed gratitude to the Federal government officials for the continuity of work on peace.
He has asked the delegates for the resumption of banking and telephone service and the continuation of humanitarian aid in all areas of the region.
Regarding what the TPLF is doing in terms of implementing the peace agreement, he said the combatants are being withdrawn from the combat zones and gathering weaponry to a single arsenal. Whether the Ethiopian government is to receive them all and if so when it is happening is unclear.
The TPLF leader also targeted Eritrea. He asked about the withdrawal of Eritrean forces. TPLF’s leader now advances the view that no third party is needed.
The U.S. has been pushing for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces. A little over a week ago, Ethiopian PM Abiy was in the U.S. to attend the U.S. – African Leaders Summit and met with Joe Biden and Anthony Blinken.
Ethiopian Diaspora organizations based in the United States have released a statement warning PM Abiy not to make a mistake on the issue of Wolkait.
All the omens in the news coverage and Prime Minister Abiy’s rhetoric in the past few weeks point to the direction that he is speeding up rapprochement with the TPLF. On the other hand, he threw reckless remarks toward groups critical of his administration in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.
Abiy’s rapprochement with TPLF came at a time when his administration is further losing public trust.
What Ethiopians feeling about the new development with TPLF
Ethiopians have been clear in terms of supporting the peace agreement. However, there has been skepticism after the TPLF made a statement right after the agreement was signed saying that it did not send delegates to South Africa.
Its hesitancy to implement the agreement has created a great deal of skepticism if TPLF was rather using the peace agreement as a military strategy to buy time.
There were in fact reports, based on EMS news coverage, that TPLF had been making preparations for war in the Alamata area.
From social media conversations, it is noticeable that the majority of Ethiopians do seem to question why Abiy Ahmed is rushing to restore normally with TPLF.
The opposition parties in Ethiopia are yet to share their assessment of the new development.
Eritrea and the peace agreement
The state of Abiy Ahmed’s relationship with Eritrea is unclear at this point. However, there are speculations that Abiy Ahmed seems to have reached a new deal with the U.S. whereby he is no longer facing threats of sanctions (economic or otherwise) and that he stays away from Eritrea.
The United States has been hostile towards Eritrea for decades because of the latter’s fierce defense of its sovereignty. Eritrea seems to be the target of the new TPLF-Abiy-led alliance that seems to be unfolding.
Eritrea was drawn into the war in Ethiopia out of security concerns after the TPLF shelled Asmara with rockets soon after the TPLF attacked the Ethiopian Defense Force in November 2020.
The United States has been fully supporting the TPLF during the war even in times when it suffered blowing defeats. Its goal was to make the TPLF a relevant political actor in the region and it seems the United States has achieved its goal.
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