Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta will be heading to South Africa to join Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday as mediators for African Union-brokered peace talks between the Federal government of Ethiopia and Tigray representatives.
The talks are part of an ongoing effort by the AU to maintain consultations in an effort to develop a format and timeline that would bring a resolution to the conflict.
The Ethiopian government has been fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) since November 2020 and accuses the rebel group of terrorism.
The parties resumed fighting three weeks ago but have been facing pressure to open negotiations.
AU Chair Moussa Faki invited Kenyatta to join a ‘Troika of negotiators’, according to a letter seen by Kenyan media.
Kenyatta, Obasanjo and South Africa’s former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka would serve on this mediating panel.
Ethiopia has accepted the offer, with the country’s national security advisor Redwan Hussein saying that the talks are “in line with our principled position regarding the peaceful resolution of the conflict and the need to have talks without preconditions.”
As members of African Union, we seek to promote peace and security in the continent. Therefore, this weekend, former president Olusegun Obasanjo and I will lead Ethiopia-Tigray peace talks for a dialogue-centred approach to conflict prevention and resolution of conflicts. pic.twitter.com/h48tAX2aZd— Uhuru Kenyatta (@PresUKenyatta) October 5, 2022
In September, Tigrayan forces said they would agree to negotiations if they were managed by the African Union.
They had expressed their willingness to include Kenya – specifically with former president Kenyatta playing a prominent role.
During his presidency, Kenyatta was responsible for a number of mediations and peace initiatives on the continent.
Although there was palpable tension between the outgoing president and incumbent President William Ruto, Ruto appointed Kenyatta as peace envoy for the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa.
“I have committed that the government of Kenya will support those initiatives that President Kenyatta will chair and I want to thank you Excellency for graciously agreeing to support us and help me in those interventions,” said Ruto.