Johannesburg (AFP) – Peace talks between the warring sides in the brutal two-year-old conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region opened in Pretoria on Tuesday, the South African presidency announced.
The negotiations, led by the African Union (AU), follow a fierce surge in fighting in recent weeks that has alarmed the international community and triggered fears for civilians caught in the crossfire.
“South Africa is hosting peace talks to end the conflict in the Tigray region,” Vincent Magwenya, spokesman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, told reporters.
The talks “have been convened to find a peaceful and sustainable solution to the devastating conflict,” he said, adding that they would run until October 30.
South Africa hopes “the talks will proceed constructively and result in a successful outcome that leads to peace for all the people of our dear sister country,” he said.
The talks between negotiators from the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the regional authorities in war-stricken Tigray have been launched almost two months to the day since fighting resumed in August, shattering a five-month truce.
They are being facilitated by AU Horn of Africa envoy and Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo, supported by Kenya’s former leader Uhuru Kenyatta and South Africa’s ex-vice president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said Magwenya.
Diplomatic pressure has been mounting in recent weeks to silence the guns in a war which has left millions in need of humanitarian aid and, according to a US estimate, as many as half a million dead.
The talks come as federal government forces and their allies in the Eritrean army appear to be gaining the upper hand on the ground, seizing a string of towns in Tigray in offensives that have sent civilians fleeing.
An initial effort by the AU to bring the two sides to the negotiating table earlier this month failed, with diplomats suggesting logistical issues and a lack of preparedness were to blame.
The South Africa talks are the first public parley between the rivals, although a Western official has confirmed that previous secret contacts took place organised by the United States in the Seychelles and twice in Djibouti.
Abiy first sent troops into Tigray in November 2020, promising a quick victory over the northern region’s dissident leaders, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), after what he said were attacks by the group on federal army camps.
The move followed long-running tensions with the TPLF, which had dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition before Abiy came to power in 2018 and sidelined the party.
In a rare comment on the conflict last week, Abiy — who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his rapprochement with Eritrea — said the war “would end and peace will prevail”.
But on Monday, the head of the rebel region, Debretsion Gebremichael, issued a defiant statement saying: “The Tigray army has the capacity to defeat our enemies totally.”
2 thoughts on “Ethiopia peace talks open in South Africa”
I have the ultimate and best solution to end the conflict. Here it is:
1) Debre and his TPLF leadership will be given half of the country to the north to rule. It covers the entire territory beginning at the center of Addis/Finfine to the north. That means the present day Amhara and Afar regions will be ruled by the TPLF as provinces, not regions. Problem solved!!! See how easy it is!!! You guys are being so silly!!!
BTW, I give Envoy H.E. Mike Hammer a roaring round of applause for being able to bring these two stubborn sides to the negotiation table. Others before him had all failed. There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong in bringing warring factions to a round table. Whether this peace talk will succeed or not that rests solely on the shoulders of Abiy and Debre. If it fails I will be holding those who gave up first responsible for the failure. If this news of continued success on the battlefronts by the ENDF is true and Mekele falls that is a different bowl game. Even then the talks must continue to avert another guerilla warfare which is going to be a war of attrition. You think the current conflict is brutal but wait if Debre and his cabals are driven out of Mekele and went back to their old device. We should never underestimate the fact that for one reason or another there are thousands of fanatic riff raffs who take Debre and cabals as their sacred deity. They will charge into fiery ujuum for them, no questions asked. These fanatics have surrendered their Allah gifted thinking power and let their leaders do all the thinking for them. That why Debre and his predecessors have been able to wage a sheer human wave battle tactics since the 1970’s. It will not be a cake walk. So I hope and pray that AU, UN, USA, Uhuru, Olusegun Obasanjo and IGAD will somehow be able to forge up the silver bullet and help bring this senseless conflict to an abrupt end. Enough with sending those young men and girls to their inevitable demise! Enough with the wailing by grieving mothers and loved ones! Enough with the internal displacements of innocent civilians! Enough, enough, enough!!!!