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Tigray Disarmament, A Test of Parties’ Commitment To Peace in Ethiopia – Experts

The signing of a peace treaty to end the civil war between Ethiopian and Tigray regional forces is a step that opens the door to a long and difficult peace process, experts say.

After two years of war, Ethiopia’s federal army and Tigrayan regional forces have agreed to sign a peace treaty that will ensure a permanent ceasefire and long-term peace in the conflict region. 

However, experts believe successful implementation of the agreement will be difficult. 

According to Alan Boswell, project director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group, the disarmament of Tigrayan forces is a flashpoint that will put the parties’ commitment to the peace agreement to the test. 

The forces of Tigray have agreed to a disarmament plan that they had previously rejected. This agreement followed Ethiopia’s victory in the conflict since October, which forced Tigray forces to accept its terms. 

The Ethiopian government accepted the peace deal in response to enormous US pressure to end the war at a time when the country is experiencing a financial crisis caused in part by the war, the experts say. 

“The truce is largely on the government’s terms and reflects the heavy pressures Tigray faced,”   Boswell told Reuters.  

“This is a huge breakthrough that involved major concessions from both sides, even if the parties punted the thorniest details to future peace talks,” he added.

“If they do stop fighting, then today will just be the start of what will surely prove a very bumpy, long, and difficult peace process.”

The conflict in northern Tigray has killed thousands of people and displaced millions more, resulting in a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The war is the result of a catastrophic breakdown in relations between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a guerrilla movement turned political party that ruled Ethiopia for 27 years, and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was once a member of their ruling coalition but whose election in 2018 ended the TPLF’s dominance.

Escalating tensions between the parties between 2018 and 2020, including Abiy’s peace deal with the TPLF’s sworn enemy, Eritrea, and the TPLF’s decision to defy him by holding regional elections in Tigray that he had postponed nationwide, pushed them to war.

The fighting began in November 2020, when forces loyal to the TPLF took control of military bases in Tigray, just three months after Abiy’s government canceled the election held in Tigray region in September 2020 after declaring it unconstitutional. 

The recent agreement on Wednesday, Nov. 2, brokered in South Africa by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, resolved “to find a lasting and comprehensive solution to the conflict, including the restoration of constitutional order in the Tigray region.”

“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 Obasanjo who was the head of the African Union (AU) mediation team, at a ceremony.

Redwan Hussein, Ethiopia’s National Security Advisor, described the peace agreement as a victory for “Ethiopia and the peace itself,” urging all parties to forget what had occurred.

The international community, including the United Nations and the United States, have welcomed the new peace deal, urging all the parties to ensure that peace prevails in their country.

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Aliyu Dahiru

Aliyu is an Assistant Editor at HumAngle and Head of the Radicalism and Extremism Desk. He has years of experience researching misinformation and influence operations. He is passionate about analysing jihadism in Africa and has published several articles on the topic. His work has been featured in various local and international publications.

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