October 21, 2022 (NAIROBI) – The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) confirmed on Friday they will send a negotiating team to take part in the African Union (AU)-led peace talks scheduled to start in South Africa next week.
“Our delegation will attend,” Kindeya Gebrehiwot, representative of Tigray External Affairs Office told AFP when asked if they would join the direct talks slated to start on Monday, October 24.
Today’s confirmation by Tigray authorities comes one day after the Ethiopian government on Thursday said that it would take part in the talks.
“AUC (African Union Commission) has informed us that the Peace Talks is set for 24 October 2022 to be held in South Africa” Redwan Hussein, national security adviser of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a tweet yesterday.
“We have reconfirmed our commitment to participate”.
“However, we are dismayed that some are bent on preempting the peace talks & spreading false allegations against the defensive measures” he added.
The AU has not yet made an official announcement on the planned talks, which will be mediated by a team of top African politicians.
Tigray’s confirmation comes ahead of a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday to discuss the spiralling crisis in the Horn of Africa’s nation.
On Friday, the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is leading the mediation efforts, briefed the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) “on the peace process for Ethiopia”.
This closed-door meeting of the PSC, the body in charge of conflicts and security issues within the pan-African organization, was the first since fighting resumed on 24 August ending the six-month-long truce committed by both warring parties.
Previous AU-led talks, convened in early October in South Africa, had fizzled out before they even began, over “logistical reasons”.
The adjournment raised serious questions about AU’s capability and credibility in the peace process.
The Ethiopian federal government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been at war with the rebel authorities in Tigray since November 2020.
The Tigray conflict has killed tens of thousands and uprooted millions from their homes.
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the UNSC and AU meetings “demonstrate the international community’s great concern about the situation” and the need for violence to stop.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ned Price also renewed calls for a resumption of humanitarian aid to Tigray, and the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia.