Ethiopia, TPLF set for disarmament talks in Kenya

The Ethiopian government and rival Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) who control the northern Tigray region are due to meet in neighbouring Kenya to start discussions on the latter’s disarmament process.

A government source on Saturday told said top military leaders of the two sides have agreed to meet on Monday, in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the disarmament of TPLF forces in accordance with the peace agreement signed in South Africa last Wednesday.

The agreement for Nairobi meeting comes after telephone exchanges between Commander-in-Chief of the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) Gen Tadesse Werede and Ethiopia chief of military staff, Gen Birhanu Jula.

According to the source, the Nairobi talks will largely focus on the disarming process of TPLF combatants will last for five days.

Military commanders of both parties, in the presence of politicians, will discuss and try to agree on the modalities of the disarmament process.

Disarmament plan

According to Article 6 of the Pretoria Peace Deal, the parties agree to organize a meeting of senior commanders within 5 days from the signing of the peace agreement to discuss and work out detailed modalities for disarmament for the TPLF combatants, taking into account the security situation on the ground.

The parties “Agree to undertake the disarmament of the heavy armaments of the TPLF combatant as a matter of priority based on a detailed schedule to be agreed upon between the senior commanders of the Parties” reads part of the article released by AU.

“The disarmament activities in the schedule should be completed within ten days from the conclusion of the meeting of the senior commanders” it states, adding “the ten days could be extended based on the recommendation of the senior commanders, to be endorsed by the Parties.

“The overall disarmament of the TPLF combatants, including light weapons, per the agreement, shall be finalized within 30 days from the signing of the agreement.”

Is truce holding?

The peace agreement was hailed by the international community as a key step towards ending the two-year-old Tigray conflict.

However, the agreed truce has not yet silenced guns in Tigray.

According to multiple sources, fighting continued on Saturday in different parts of the region involving Eritrean troops who are fighting against Tigray forces alongside government army.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s National Security Adviser, Ambassador Redwan Hussine, on Saturday also gave an explanation to members of the diplomatic community based in Addis Ababa with regard to the planned disarmament plans.

In his briefing, Redwan said the government has started activities to implement the Pretoria Peace Deal.

Air strikes and shelling

One day after both sides signed the treaty, the Ethiopian military has allegedly continued to carry out deadly attacks defying the deal.

Tigray External Affairs Office representative, Professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot on Friday said that the Ethiopian military has carried out attacks targeting civilians in the Tigrayan city of Maychew.

The air raids were carried out on Thursday, less than 24 hours after Pretoria Peace Agreement was inked.

“According to sources at Lemlem-Karl Hospital, drones of Ethiopia has attacked civilians,” he said in a tweet on Friday.

“There was also shelling of artillery in the same city that killed and wounded civilians” the official said without giving further details on the number of casualties.

He added that “This [the attack] happens after signing the peace agreement in Pretoria.”

The hospital shared footages of several injured civilians on social media platforms.

Ethiopian government officials didn’t immediately respond to requests from the Nation.

Since its breakout in November 2020, the Tigray conflict has claimed the lives of tens and thousands, uprooted millions and caused a grave humanitarian crisis, subjecting 90 percent of the estimated seven million Tigray population to aid- dependence, not to mention the destruction of property at alarming proportions.

“As many as half a million” people have been killed in the conflict, according to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who warned the UN Security Council last month of the potential for “mass atrocities” if the fighting continues.

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