The Ethiopian government and Tigray rebels agreed Wednesday to cease all hostilities in a dramatic diplomatic breakthrough two years into a war that has killed thousands, displaced millions, and left hundreds of thousands facing famine.
The breakthrough came just over a week after formal peace talks mediated by the African Union (AU) began in the South African capital Pretoria, delegates from both sides signed an agreement on a “permanent cessation of hostilities.”
“The two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth, and coordinated disarmament,” said Olusegun Obasanjo, head of the AU mediation team, at a ceremony.
Announcing the development, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the high representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission, said: “Today is the beginning of a new dawn for Ethiopia, for the Horn of Africa, and indeed for Africa as a whole. Let me hasten to thank God for this new dawn.”
He added that “we are seeing in practice and actualization what we have tried to achieve for ourselves over the years – African solutions for African problems. We also see in today’s peace agreement signing exercise the implementation of Agenda 2063, which embodies silencing the guns in Africa.”
Obasanjo added that the two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament, the restoration of law and order, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies and the protection of civilians, especially women, children and other vulnerable groups.
The agreement also takes care of the assurance of security for all concerned within and outside Ethiopia.
In a statement, Kenyan President William Ruto commended the parties to the Ethiopian peace process for signing the peace agreement.
“The commitment demonstrated by the two parties to the African Union-led peace process aligns with our collective desire for peace and security within our region,” Ruto said.
Türkiye hails deal
Türkiye late Wednesday welcomed the agreement reached between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels and expressed hope for it “to be a lasting one.”
“We congratulate the African Union, which led the talks, the host Republic of South Africa, and all contributing parties for their efforts,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said.
Ankara also reiterated its “readiness to give all kinds of support to friendly and brotherly Ethiopia for the establishment of peace and tranquility in Ethiopia.”
In a report released on Oct. 29, the U.N. said that 2.75 million people in Ethiopia are internally displaced and 12.5 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance.
There has been intense fighting in the northern Ethiopian region since a monthslong truce was shattered in late August, with reports of mass casualties and other rights violations.
A report released by U.N. rights experts last month accused both sides of committing abuses that border on war crimes and crimes against humanity.