The African Union (AU) appointed a mediator in the crisis that has engulfed northern Ethiopia for nearly a year, prompting Tigray rebels to accuse the AU of “bias.”
“It would be naive to think this mission could work,” rebel spokesperson Getachew Reda wrote on Twitter three days after former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was appointed as the AU’s envoy to the Horn of Africa to “promote peace, security, stability, and political dialogue.”
A crisis requires at least recognition of the existence, if not the importance, of a problem. “We don’t see how an organization that has defined partiality can play a constructive role,” he concluded.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has repeatedly rejected any proposal for talks. Ethiopia has declared the TPLF as a terrorist group. After Addis Ababa announced a ceasefire in late June, government forces withdrew from Mekelle, the Tigray regional capital.
In an attempt to march on the capital, the rebels rejected the offer and attacked the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. They’ve been accused of war crimes as a result of their actions.
The African Union has avoided discussing the conflict because Ethiopia’s allies have prevented it from being discussed at the UN Security Council. The conflict, which began last November when TPLF forces attacked a federal army base, has threatened to destabilize Africa’s second-most populous country.