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The Joint Peace Accord and its Fallout

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (L), Redwan Hussein (2nd L), Representative of the Ethiopian government, African Union Horn of Africa envoy and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo (2nd R) and and Getachew Reda (R), Representative of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), look on after the signing of a peace agreement during a press conference regarding the African Union-led negotiations to resolve conflict in Ethiopia at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) offices in Pretoria on November 2, 2022. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP)

By Abayneh, Merhatsidk Mekonnen

You might, under compelling circumstances, be emboldened to conclude any peace accord any time with, let us say, even Devil himself, leave alone with a human being of your own creation, dignity and worth.

There is no doubt that it appears congratulatory to happily gaze at the colorful Pritoria ceremony in which the respective delegations of the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T.P.L.F) have seriously engaged with each other for more than a week and ultimately managed to arrive at a negotiated peace deal on November 2nd 2022.

The deal essentially aims at silencing the gun and putting an end to the two-year long bloody war between them which has gravely devastated our country at large.

In fact,  it is gracious to watch over the Chief Representatives from both parties shaking hands with each other, apparently in a sensational mood of ease and sigh of relief. Of course, the actual implementation of this joint peace accord requires good faith and unwavering dedication on the part of the two belligerents themselves as outlined in Art. 12 Sub-Art. (1) of the accord.

Yet, the stakeholders from the Amhara and Afar Regions sharing administrative boundaries with Tigrayand equally tormented hard as a result of the gruesome and destructive war imposed on them by the T.P.L.F’s invading forces in the course of the negotiation and the just concluded peace deal could have added a profound value to its successful operationalization on the ground and the level of its sustainability as desired by the parties in conflict.

For instance, the same agreement which has deliberately excluded the Amhara and Afar communities vividly victimized by and subjected to horrific mass atrocities during the repeatitive actions of the terrorist group vaguely proclaims that the question of the ‘contested areas’ shall be gradually fleshed out and settled in line with the basic law of the land.

In connection with this, Art. 10 Sub-Art. (4) of the Joint Agreement on the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities expressly declares that “the Parties commit themselves to resolving those issues of contested areas in accordance with the ‘Constitution and the constitutional order’”.

Unfortunately, that foolish-looking provision may perhaps amount to a silly joke making you feel pretty dull instead of helping you smile a little.

After all, how would you dare to anticipate the amicable resolution or disposition of the issue of the ‘contested areas’ in accordance with the nation’s ‘Constitution and Constitutional Order’ knowing for sure that the very predicament has been engineered by the constitution itself in the first place?

The phrase, ‘contested areas’ tactfully coined by the crafters of the peace deal is a rather tricky one.

We are mature enough:

The so-called ‘contested areas’ contained in the Joint Agreement for the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities formally witnessed by the Honorable African Union mediators along with their U.S. and Western European sponsors are meant to cautiously refer to the Wolqahit-Tseghedie, Setit-Humera, Tellemt as well as Raya-Allamata, Aber-ghelie and Wofla territories of the present-day Amhara Region previously annexed from the former Beghie-Midir and Wollo Provinces and for long occupied by force prior to the enactment of the current constitution and thereafter before they had been liberated back following the law-enforcement operation conducted in 2020.

In that case, therefore, it makes no sense at all how such a complicated bottleneck as this one essentially involving the Amhara identity can be smoothly resolved without the representation and effective participation of the community concerned directly affected by the agreement from distance.

As far as I am concerned, I don’t think it is too late to do something incremental in the right direction for an all-inclusive political dialogue and sustainable peace with far-reaching implications across the Sub-Region.

Mind you, the golden proverb operates here: If there is a will, there is a way.

Once again, it is instructive to add that Art. 12. Sub-Art. (1) of the Joint Agreement affirms that “The Parties undertake to implement this Agreement in good faith and to refrain from any action that undermines and/or is inconsistent with the spirit and letter of this Cessation of Hostilities”.

Interestingly enough  , my recent facebook post on the issue of ‘Contested Areas’ inserted in Art. 10 Sub-Art. (4) of the Joint Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities signed on November 2nd 2022 has ignited a moderate debate between and among scores of my readers from far and wide.

For instance, I came across MogusZewdu conversing with ErmiasLeghese over Ethio360 on Nov. 5 2022 trying to underestimate the intended meaning of the infamous phrase and went on to argue that the reference implied therein is perhaps the writer’s own interpretation in an apparent disagreement with Ermias’s argument to the contrary.

In fact, I do disagree with Mogus’s overstretched view that the phrase also refers to other items such as the areas or fields of study although he has not completely ruled out my earlier proposition.

To begin with, Art. 10 of the joint Agreement is entitled ‘Transitional Measures. And the full text of its Sub-Art. (4) reads as follows:

“The Parties commit themselves to resolving those issues of ‘contested areas’ in accordance with the ‘Constitution and constitutional order”.’

With due regard to my friend’s extended opinion, this provision has nothing to do with areas or subjects of study as has been unnecessarily elaborated at length. Neither the title nor the rest of its earlier provisions indicate the suggestion or justify the explanation that he has provided for.

Hence, the deliberately obscure formulation represented by the construction of ‘contested areas’ is intentionally meant to refer to the territories disputed between the Amhara and Tigrean Regions without any doubt.

That is, at least indirectly, what the country’s Prime Minister, his National Security Advisor, (the Chief negotiator) and the Minister of the Federal Government Communication’s Service have been consistently informing the public while delivering out official statements one after another back home from the venue of the peace talks.

One final note, by way of concluding remark:

For lack of key definitions in any similar legal or contractual document,  it is an established rule that you always take the spirit of the entire text and the proper context into account for the purpose of interpreting a given controversial phrase or clause.

 

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