News: AU Monitoring team confirm handing over of heavy weapons by Tigrayan forces; neither “foreign” nor “non-ENDF forces” reported withdrawing from Tigray

AU MVCM team and members of the ENDF displaying list of heavy weapons handed over by the Tigrayan forces .

Addis Ababa – The African Union appointed Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission (MVCM) team has confirmed launch of the disarmament process of Tigrayan combatants as Tigrayan forces handed over heavy weapons to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces on Tuesday 10, January.

Tigray’s move is in compliance with the “Disarmament of Tigray armed combatants,” stipulated on the Executive Declaration on the Modalities for the Implementation of the Pretoria agreement, which was signed in Nairobi on 12 November, article 2.1/D, which stated that “disarmament of heavy weapons will be done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region.”

However, neither the withdrawal of “foreign” nor “non-ENDF forces” was announced together with the handing over of the heavy weapons. Both Eritrean and neighboring Amhara region forces are still inside the Tigray region, controlling western Tigray, parts of southern and northern as well as north-eastern parts the regional state. There is no official statement both from the federal government and the Tigray region officials on the matter.

But speaking during the press conference, a representative from the AU MVCM said, “we have seen handing over and taking over military hardware by both the Tigray defense force and the Ethiopian national defense force” regional broadcaster Tigray Television reported.

A video displayed by the regional media showed the AU MVCM team witnessing the handing over ceremony of the heavy weapons by the Tigrayan forces to the Ethiopian military at Agulae, about 30 kms north of regional capital Mekelle, where the heavy weapons were collected.

Included in the military equipment are tanks, armored vehicles, heavy mortars, guns, anti-tank guns, urals and rocket loaded cars which were handed over to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) contingent.

Representatives from both Ethiopian government and Tigrayan authorities sides have also confirmed the disarmament of heavy weapons by Tigrayan forces during a joint press conference in Mekelle.

A representative from the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) Lieutenant Colonel Aleme Tadesse said during the joint press briefing, that the disarmament begun according to peace agreement signed between Ethiopian government and Tigrayan authorities in Pretoria on 02 November.

“We have disengaged from our front lines, Tigrayan forces have also done the same…now we have come to Agulae this day where the heavy weapons are collected, we have received the weapons from Tigray defense force in the presence of AU observers,” he said.

Getachew Reda spokesperson of TPLF and member of the central command tweeted saying that Tigray has handed over its heavy weapon as part of its commitment to implementing the Pretoria agreement and that the AU MVCM confirmed it.

“We hope and expect this will go long way in expanding the full implementation of the agreement” he added.

The African Union Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism (AU-MVCM) was officially launched in Mekelle, on 29 December. Major General Stephen Radina from Kenya has been appointed to lead the mission alongside Colonel Rufai Umar Mairiga of Nigeria and Colonel Teffo Sekole of South Africa. AS

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