Ethiopia, Tigray Rebels Agree to African Union Monitoring Team

Kenya’s former president, Uhuru Kenyatta, will travel to Ethiopia’s Tigray region to oversee monitoring of last month’s peace deal. Ethiopian federal and Tigray region officials agreed late Thursday at talks in Nairobi to grant the African Union full access to the region to oversee an end to the two-year conflict.

Ethiopian military leadership and representatives of the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front have agreed to establish a joint monitoring team to oversee the peace agreement signed in November.

The agreement, signed in South Africa, ended two years of fighting between the federal government and TPLF that killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also part of the mediating team, said Thursday the warring factions have agreed to have a body monitor the peace deal.

“They have all concurred and agreed to give the monitoring and verification team of the African Union full access, full 360-degree viewpoint to ensure all the elements of the agreements are actually going to be implemented,” Kenyatta said.

The mediators, who met peace negotiators in Nairobi this week, expressed confidence in normalcy returning to the Tigray region and peace in Ethiopia.

Professor Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha, an expert in diplomacy and international relations, said the African Union must play its role in solving conflicts in the continent.

“The problem with the African Union is that sometimes the resolutions and determination of this nature have not been followed with tangible results in the field,” Chacha said. “But we are hoping this time round the warring parties will be able to appreciate the fact that they need very urgently to have a solution to the problems.”

The war between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebel group broke out in November 2020 and spread to the Amhara and Afar regions.

The peace deal has brought some relief to the suffering population in the north of the country.

Ethiopian leaders have been meeting to discuss ways of carrying out the disarmament of rebels in Tigray and neighboring regions and negotiate the withdrawal of Eritrean forces who assisted the Ethiopian army.

Kenyatta said his team and African Union representatives will visit Tigray’s capital to check on the progress of the peace agreement.

“They have been negotiating for the last two days but we agreed that the true statement that they need to make would be the statement they make when we are in Mekelle in the next few days observing and verifying the actions because documents are one thing, what we want now is the deliverables and this is why we are heading to Mekele,” Kenyatta said.

There was no immediate word on when Kenyatta will go to Tigray.

Chacha said the Kenyatta team’s visit will help solve the outstanding issues in the peace deal.

“The actions of visiting will give them firsthand information and knowledge about the situation on the ground and when the situation on the ground is clearly understood, then the parties concerned, including the mediators, can understand and appreciate the way they will approach the resolution in order for them to create an atmosphere that can bring about peace,” Chacha said.

Some of the peace deal’s provisions have already been implemented, including humanitarian aid and the restoration of banking and telecommunications services.

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