The federal government’s decision to sit for negotiations with the leader of the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) received a mixed reaction among political groups.
The federal government of Ethiopia has announced it is ready to sit for peace talks with the TPLF as a landmark turning point to end 20 months of conflict that ravaged the northern part of the country.
The latest development is a follow-up of PM Abiy Ahmed’s announcement two weeks ago that a committee was formed to spearhead the negotiations with TPLF.
As the PM has not been in the public eye for over a week now, the latest announcement came from Redwan Hussien, national security advisor to the PM.
The government is ready to talk anytime, anywhere. Talks should begin without preconditions, ‘he tweeted on July 28, 2022.
Redwan also reiterated that “the AU leads the [negotiation] process.’
Though welcomed by many, the announcement has created mixed reflections on whether the terms are reciprocated by TPLF or not.
Just days before the federal government’s announcement, Debretsion Gebremichael, leader of the TPLF, told regional media outlets that his team could not negotiate unless the federal government resumes basic services first.
Tigray remains disconnected from power, telecom, banking, budget and other services since the war broke out in November 2020. Debretsion also warned his forces could go to war again unless these services are resumed. The TPLF also been stating that the negotiation must include other opposition political parties in Ethiopia. TPLF’s interest is also to hold the negotiations in Nairobi. It also pronounced its disapproval of the negotiation being conducted under the auspices of AU.
On the other hand, the federal government has been demanding the TPLF to lay down arms and sit for peace talks.
TPLF has not officially reacted to Redwan’s tweet so far. However, observers and political analysts stress that the success of the negotiation is still at a crossroad.
Goitom Tsegaye, deputy chairperson of Arena Tigray, an opposition party in Tigray, is among politicians that do not approve of the term “anytime,” which is likely saying there is no time limit. “The ultimate target of the negotiation should be to solve the suffering of the people in Tigray.”
Merara Gudina (PhD), chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), disapproves a negotiation that does not include all political parties and insurgents pushed out of the political space.
“It is a waste of time and a political dream to think that the government will bring lasting peace and stability to Ethiopia by negotiating with only one group. We did not see the preparations on the ground to enter into negotiations and also didn’t see an all-inclusive approach to negotiations. Even in the national dialogue, we are not seeing a hint of going beyond the propaganda from the politics of insistence to the politics of negotiation that can solve the problems.”
Since last year, the African Union and the Kenyan government have been trying to mediate between the two warring parties. The federal government wants former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is now the Organization’s High-Representative for the Horn of Africa, to lead the negotiation process. On the other hand, TPLF is seeking Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, to mediate.
Other scholars also argue that Eritrea, Amhara regional government, whose forces participated in the Tigray war, should be part of the negotiation
“Not all problems can be solved with guns. As a party, we have said that the way to solve the problem is through dialogue,” says Seife-Selassie Ayalew (PhD), deputy President of Enat Party. “If the negotiation waits until the demand is fulfilled, it takes a lot of time, which prolongs the suffering of the victims.”
The TPLF leaders also have a referendum on their tables, an alternative to put an end to the de facto state, if the negotiation fails to bear fruit.
“Our party does not accept the referendum. The problem of the people of Tigray can be solved through negotiations,” argues Seife-Selassie.
Merara agrees with Seife-Selasse that a referendum will not solve the problem.
Source: The Reporter