Tigray’s leader Debretsion Gebremichael (PHD) and Olusegun Obasanjo, AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa in Mekelle. Photo: Getachew Reda

Addis Ababa: The Government of Ethiopia says it has accepted a peace talks invitation issued by the African Union to resolve the 21 months war in Ethiopia.

“The African Union’s official invitation is consistent with the Ethiopian Government’s prior positions. It is known that the Government of Ethiopia has expressed that, talks should only be mediated by the African Union and should be held without any pre-conditions,” the Government Communications service has said in a statement released.

The statement says the AU has announced both date and venue for the peace talks without disclosing the when and where.

The federal government has previously said it was “ready to talks anytime, anywhere,” and that “talks should begin without preconditions.”

In a statement released on 11 September the Tigray government said it was “prepared to participate in a robust peace process under the auspices of the Africa Union.” It added that the Tigray government was ready “to abide by an immediate and mutually agreed cessation of hostilities in order to create a conducive atmosphere,” and named Getachew Reda, advisor of the Tigray region’s president, Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), and Lt. Gen. Tsadikan Gebretinsae, former chief of staff of the Ethiopian defense forces, as its negotiation team “ready to be deployed without delay.”

A letter of invitation dated 01 October and signed off by Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, was sent to Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), President of Tigray regional State and Chairperson of the ruling party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), inviting him to “peace talks” scheduled to take place in South Africa from Sunday, 08 October 2022. [Note: Sunday is 09 October].

“The Peace talks between the two parties is expected to deliberate on the guiding principles, agenda issues, modalities, format and timelines for the negotiated settlement aimed at laying foundation for a structured and sustained mediation between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF, towards durable resolution of the conflict,” the letter reads.

This is the first official attempt at bringing the two sides together when a five month truce collapsed after the two sides resumed militarized hostilities on 24 August.

The letter by the AU Chairperson further said that the talks “will be facilitated and led by H.E Olusegun Obasanjo, AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa and former President of Nigeria, with the support of a panel of distinguished and eminent Africans. H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, former President of the Republic Kenya, and H.E. Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Member of the AU Panel of the Wise and former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, will serve as panelists for the peace talks process.”

Appreciating Dr. Debretsion’s “avowed commitment to peace and stability in Ethiopia,” AU Chairperson Moussa Faki said he looked “forward to your timely response and constructive engagement at the Talks.”

It is not clear if the federal government’s statement this morning was in response to a simultaneous letter of invitation addressed to it. Ambassador Redwan Hussein, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s national security adviser, tweeted this morning saying that the invitation by AU was inline with his federal government’s “principled position regarding the peaceful resolution of the conflict and the need to have talks without preconditions”.

There is no official response from the government of Tigray to the letter as of the publishing of this news. AS

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