Ethiopia: Government Team Begins Visit in Tigray After Peace Deal

A high-level Ethiopian delegation landed in the Tigrayan capital of Mekele for a first official visit to implement issues signed in in the 2 November peace agreement between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The Ethiopian team arrived on Monday 26 December in Mekele, the capital of rebel-held Tigray, for a first official visit following a peace deal aimed at ending a brutal two-year conflict.

The delegation visiting the Tigrayan capital Mekele will “supervise the implementation of major issues in the peace agreement” signed on 2 November, according to an Ethiopian government statement.

The team is led by House of Peoples Representatives speaker Tagesse Chafo and includes Redwan Hussein, who is the security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, as well as the ministers of justice, transport and communication and labour.

(In Pictures)#Ethiopia/n Federal gov’t delegation in #Mekelle, #Tigray‘s capital, welcomed by #TPLF officials. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/XntQQghK4w— Haphtom Berhe (@Haphtom) December 26, 2022

The head of Ethiopia’s road infrastructure authority as well as, Mesfin Tasew Bekele, the head of Ethiopian Airlines and, Frehiwot Tamiru, CEO of Ethio Telecom are also present.

“The delegation is the first of its stature as a high-level federal government body heading to Mekele in two years,” the statement said.

“This gesture is an attestation to the peace agreement getting on the right track and progressing,” it added.

The delegation was greeted by rebel authorities, including their spokesman Getachew Reda.

Tigray conflict

The war began in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray after accusing the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in the region, of attacking army bases.

Estimates of casualties vary widely, with the United States saying that as many as half a million people have died.

The conflict has also unleashed one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters in recent times.

More than two million people have been displaced, hundreds of thousands have been driven to the brink of famine and around 13.6 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid, according to United Nation figures.

Of these, 5.4 million are in Tigray, seven in Amhara and 1.2 million in Afar.

Monitoring mechanism

The agreement signed in the South African capital Pretoria provides for the disarmament of rebel forces, the re-establishment of federal authority in Tigray and the reopening of access to the region.

The two sides agreed to create a joint monitoring and compliance mechanism to oversee the deal and receive complaints about any abuse towards civilians.

Aid has started trickling back into Tigray since the peace deal was signed, going some way to alleviating dire shortages of food, fuel, cash and medicines.

But the region of six million people is still largely without electricity and phone lines, while internet and banking services have only partly been restored.

The city of Mekele, was hooked up to the national electricity grid on 6 December, and the country’s biggest bank, the Commercial bank of Ethiopia, announced on 19 December that financial operations had resumed in some towns.

The rebels say that two-thirds of their forces have disengaged from the front lines.

Pro-government forces, specifically troops from Eritrea to the north, and militias from the Ethiopian region of Amhara, are not mentioned in the peace deal but remain in Tigray.

The rebel authorities, local people and aid workers claim that these forces have carried out looting, raping, summary executions and abductions.

Access to the region being extremely difficult, it has not been possible to verify these accounts independently.

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