By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Friday met with Tigray leaders to discuss on the implementation of the peace agreement signed last November in South Africa, according to state media outlets.
This is the first time for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders to hold first face-to-face meeting with the Ethiopian leader since conflict between Tigray and Ethiopia federal and allied forces broke out in November 2020.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed and reviewed the activities carried out so far with regard to the implementation of the peace agreement that ended a two-year bloody conflict in the country’s north.
Accordingly, the Prime Minister and the Tigray leaders representing the regional Peace Agreement Implementation Coordination Committee evaluated the implementation of both Pretoria and Nairobi peace agreements and set directions on the outstanding issues that need further attention to ensure durable peace.
TPLF negotiators, Getachew Reda, General Tsadkan Gebretensai, General Tadesse werede, Commander-in-Chief of the Tigray Defense Forces and other representatives of the TPLF met the prime minister at Halala Kela resort in South Ethiopia.
Redwan Hussein, The Prime Minister’s National Security Adviser, said Abiy Ahmed and his deputy, Demeke Mekonnen as well as other government officials have met and held discussion with TPLF delegation regarding the progress of the peace process.
“As a result, PM Abiy passed decisions about increasing flights, Banking and other issues that would boost trust and ease lives of civilians” he said.
Prof. Kindeya Gebrehiwot, a TPLF member and representative of Tigray External Affairs Office on Saturday said the meeting is a milestone step in the right direction of the signed pact.
“Agreed action points are encouraging and will elevate mutual trust level. We all need to uphold and speed up the momentum” he said in a tweet.
The two-year Tigray conflict has claimed the lives of tens and thousands, uprooted millions and subjected 90 percent of the estimated seven million of Tigray population to be aid-dependent.
“As many as half a million” people have been killed in the conflict, according to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations.
The civil war erupted when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent his forces to Tigray to depose the regional leaders who had been challenging his authority for months and whom he accused of attacking federal military bases.
Neighboring Eritrea has also fought alongside the Ethiopian military but Asmara was not part of the Pretoria talks and hasn’t yet fully withdrawn its forces.
Few days ago, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US representative to the United Nations, said Eritrean forces only moved back to the border but still remain in Ethiopia.
“With respect to Eritreans, we understand they have moved back to the border and they have been asked to leave,” she said at a news conference while visiting the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The Eritrean forces continued presence in Ethiopia is being a major obstacle for the effective implementation of the peace deal.
(The East African Daily)