Members of the African Union Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism (AU-MVCM) team during the launching ceremony in Mekelle.
Addis Abeba – The African Union has extended the term limits of the AU Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism (AU-MVCM) until December this year, according to the US Embassy in Addis Abeba.
The AU-MVCM constitutes key part of the Pretoria Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed between the Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF that ended the atrocious war that started two years prior to the signing of the agreement. Article 11 of the CoHA sets six months for the duration of the mandate of the monitoring experts “from the date the experts are deployed,” but left possibilities of extension “upon agreement with the Parties.”
Led by Maj. Gen. Stephen Radina from Kenya, the AU-MVCM includes Colonel Rufai Umar Mairiga of Nigeria and Colonel Teffo Sekole of South Africa. It was officially launched in Mekelle, the capital city of Tigray regional state on 29 December.
The monitoring team’s Joint Committee had since held two briefings to the AU on the progresses of implementation since their deployment in the Tigray region. Their report during the second briefing included the disarmament of heavy weapons and the impending handover of medium and light weapons as part of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process as well as the facilitation of unhindered humanitarian access, the restoration of health, banking, public transport, and commercial services and the re-opening of schools in most parts of the region,” according to the AU.
On 19 May MVCM leader Maj. Gen. Stephen Radina said that 85 to 90% the disarmament of Tigrayan combatants was “completed.”
Regardless of the disarmament progress, and the provision on the Nairobi Declaration of the Executive Plan on the concurrent withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from Tigray, however, Eritrean forces continued occupying parts of north and north eastern Tigray region while Amhara forces remain in control of western Tigray, where a recent report by Human Rights Watch documented the continued crime of ethnic cleansing, as well as several parts of southern Tigray, leaving millions of Tigrayans stranded in IDP camps in dire conditions.
Despite stating the disarmament progress however, the report remained silent on the status of the withdrawal of both foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region.
The extension of the term coincides with the ongoing visit to Addis Abeba and Mekelle of Ambassador Mike Hammer, U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa. On Tuesday, Ambassador Mike and Ambassador Jacobson visited Saba Care-4 internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Mekelle, “to hear about the needs and concerns of those displaced by the conflict in northern Ethiopia. IDPs are looking to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement to deliver a sustainable peace,” according to the US Embassy.
The State Department said that the purpose of Ambassador Mike’s is to discuss the progress and priorities of the implementation of the Nov. 2022 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement(COHA), including transitional justice & accountability efforts, as well as disarmament, demobilization, & reintegration programming.”
In a statement he issued after the meeting in Mekelle, Getache Reda, President of Tigray’s Interim Administration, said part of the discussion covered on how to “expedite the return of IDPs to Western Tigray, the challenges the Eritrean regime continues to pose to the full implementation of the Pretoria agreement & resource constraints standing in the way of speedy demobilization in Tigray. Tigrayan authorities have also briefed the US delegation “on the progress in the investigation into allegations of aid diversion, Getachew said. adding “we have shared highlights of findings & reassured them that we will make the findings public & hold those responsible to account very soon.”
But weather Amb. Mike discussed the same topics with the federal officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in not clear. While stating the meeting between Ambassador Mesganu Arga, state Minister at the ministry of foreign affairs, Amb Mike, and Amb Tracy Ann, MoFA said the “discussion focused on strengthening and deepening the bilateral relationship between both countries. they agreed to continue working on issued of mutual concern.” AS