BY SUMUR TSEHAYE
A delegation of high level Ethiopian officials led by Tagesse Chafo, Speaker of Parliament, met and discussed with TPLF leaders on Monday in Tigray capital, Mekelle.
The delegation is the first of its stature as a high-level Federal Government body headed to the war-torn region since the conflict between Tigray region and government forces broke out in November 2020.
According to the Ethiopian Government Communication Service, the delegation intends to oversee the implementation of major issues in the peace agreement as per the set plan.
During the meeting, delegation head, Tagesse Chafo, commended the work done by external actors in facilitating the Pretoria deal and the recent Nairobi agreement.
The Pretoria deal, in early November ended the two years long bloody war in the country’s north and the recent Nairobi agreement structured the modalities to be used in evaluating the implementation of the previously signed peace deal.
“We have faced several ups and downs, but we are finally here in Mekelle. Peace is the only choice for both parties” Tagesse said
“Multiple African leaders, Organizations, and countries have helped us achieve both the Pretoria deal and the Nairobi agreement. But now the delegation is here to encourage Ethiopians to solve the internal crisis ourselves” he added.
Recently, Tigray officials have been accusing the Eritrean government of trying to obstruct the peace process and urged the Abiy government to comply with the terms of the peace accord with regard to withdrawing the foreign and non-federal forces.
Eritrea, which has fought alongside neighboring Ethiopia, was not part of the peace talks, an omission that analysts have said could seriously undermine prospects for a permanent end to hostilities.
Despite last month’s peace deal signed in South Africa, the presence of Eritrean forces in Tigray has been an obstacle for Tigray forces to disarm.
Details of what has been discussed today with regard to withdrawal of Eritrean forces has not been revealed by any of the parties but Tigray leaders said the discussions were “cordial and historical”
“Fruitful discussions were held and important understanding has been reached” said Getachew Reda, advisor to the President of Tigray, who also signed the peace agreement with the Ethiopian government on behalf of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
“The government’s gesture to green light the long over due restoration of services is commendable”
“That none of the government delegation members bothered to bring close protection guards is a testament to their confidence in Tigray’s commitment to the peace agreement,” Getachew said.
Tigray on its part has welcomed and treated its guests with a sense of respect and responsibility, he added.
“We will continue to build on the progress while addressing challenges ahead” he added.
Tigray conflict has claimed the lives of over half a million people and displaced many more.
Following the outbreak of the war, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government imposed a de facto siege on Tigray.
The blockade locked all roads into the region, starving it of food and other supplies and cutting off telecommunications, electricity and banking services – an approach that left almost 90 percent of Tigray’s roughly six million people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
(The East African Daily)