The Ethiopian government said on Wednesday that it had accepted an offer from the African Union (AU) to hold peace talks with rebels in the northern province of Tigray. The announcement did not say when or where the talks would take place, though. “An invitation to participate in peace talks has been extended by the African Union. This invitation has been accepted by the Ethiopian government, which reflects our consistent stance that the conflict should be resolved peacefully and that there is a requirement for talks to take place regardless of any preexisting conditions.” This was said in a tweet by Redwan Hussein, who is the National Security Advisor for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
In a statement, the Ethiopian Government Communication Service (GCS) said that the invitation from the African Union (AU) only said when and where the meetings would take place, but didn’t give any other information. When asked about the invitation by AFP, the rebel authorities in Tigray, which are at odds with the federal government of Ethiopia, did not immediately react. Moussa Faki’s spokesman, Ebba Kalondo, said, “We will tell the parties the facts at the right time.”
If the leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, Debretsion Gebremichael, shows up to the proposed discussions between Tigray and Ethiopia, it will be the most serious effort ever made to end the war between the two countries. No information about the attendees, including whether or not the neighboring country of Eritrea has been invited, has been made public as of yet. During the whole conflict, the Tigrayan Rebels have said that they will not take part in any talks that involve Asmara.
According to a diplomatic source who spoke with AFP, the African Union (AU) has established a troika of mediators. Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, will be the organization’s special envoy to the Horn of Africa. Uhuru Kenyatta, a former president of Kenya, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a former vice president of South Africa, will also be part of this troika.
Fighting between Tigrayan rebels and the federal Ethiopian army, which was backed by fighters from the Tigray border regions and Eritrea, began on August 24 in northern Ethiopia after a five-month ceasefire that raised hopes for peace negotiations. The ceasefire had been in place since April.
According to a statement released by the State Department, the United States Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, returned to the region on October 3, following a previous visit in September. The goal of this trip was to “stop fighting right away in northern Ethiopia and help get peace talks started under the supervision of the African Union.”