- Statement steps up efforts to end two-year conflict
- The parties say they are committed to the next steps, including disarmament
- Mediators say implementation of plan must begin immediately
- Includes the provision of humanitarian aid to affected areas
NAIROBI, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan forces signed an agreement on Saturday setting out the roadmap for implementing a peace deal the two sides reached in South Africa this month.
Representatives of the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have been meeting since Monday in Nairobi to reach an agreement on various aspects related to the implementation of the peace pact signed in Pretoria.
Saturday’s statement is expected to boost efforts by African Union mediators to resolve a two-year conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions in the Horn of Africa country.
It will facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, provide security guarantees for aid workers, ensure the protection of civilians and establish a joint committee to oversee implementation, the mediators said.
The deal will go into effect “immediately”, mediator Olusegun Obasanjo told a news conference ahead of the signing.
BOTH SIDES COMMITTED
Both sides said they were committed to the declaration, stressing that it was the only way to restore peace and stability.
“We will devote ourselves fully to the implementation of the Pretoria agreement and this declaration,” said Birhanu Jula, a senior Ethiopian military official and one of the government representatives at the talks.
Ethiopian military officials and the TPLF have reached an agreement on the disarmament of TPLF fighters and the entry of the Ethiopian army into the Tigrayan capital of Mekele, the federal government said in a statement released after the signing.
Disarmament will begin on November 15, said the statement, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.
The role of Eritrea, which did not participate in the talks, remains of concern, analysts say. Its troops fought in the conflict alongside the Ethiopian army.
“The disarmament of heavy weapons will be done with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF (federal military) forces from the region,” the statement signed on Saturday said, without specifically naming the foreign forces.
Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Meskel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
One of the TPLF representatives, General Tadesse Werede, said the declaration on the implementation gave them hope that the suffering of the people of Tigray would come to an end.
Asked if this included accountability for war crimes, Uhuru Kenyatta, another mediator and former Kenyan president, said it would come “when the guns are silenced and the dire humanitarian situation is resolved. “.
“There will be severe penalties against anyone who commits atrocities against civilians,” he said.
Both sides agreed to a permanent cessation of hostilities in an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough in South Africa on November 2.
Immediate humanitarian access will be a welcome relief in a region where hundreds of thousands of people face starvation conditions.
On Friday, the Ethiopian government said international aid was “cleared and ready” to enter Tigray.
Agencies were preparing to send an aid convoy to Alamata in southern Tigray next week and work out final details to get aid to other areas, a senior official told Reuters on Saturday. senior humanitarian official in Ethiopia.
Reporting by Ayenat Mersie, additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Written by Duncan Miriri and Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Clelia Oziel and Christina Fincher
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