Africa

Ethiopia names negotiation team for talks with Tigray rebels

Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen to head discussions

Addis Getachew   | 28.06.2022
Ethiopia names negotiation team for talks with Tigray rebels

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government appointed a negotiating team for impending talks with the Tigray rebels.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonnen was appointed chairperson of the negotiating team late Monday.

Justice Minister Gedion Timotheos, intelligence chief Temesgen Tiruneh, as well as ambassadors Hassen Abdulkadir and Redwan Hussien, Lieut.-Gen. Birhanu Bekele and Getachew Jenber have been named to the team.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signaled on June 14 the possibility that his government would have talks with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) -- a renegade party that is in full control of the northern regional state of Tigray with approximately 6 million people.

Timotheos said Monday that the team was authorized to negotiate with the rebels but with a clear directive that talks would be mediated by the African Union (AU) and in strict adherence to Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

The TPLF, however, already put a condition that they would talk with Ethiopia if mediation is led by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The rebel group also said mediation should bring together the US, EU and the United Nations in addition to the African Union (AU).

Attempts at bringing the warring sides was ongoing for almost a year after the AU named former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa.

But the Nigerian statesman did not seem to win favor with the rebels who in an earlier statement said that the closeness of Obasanjo to the government in Ethiopia was not “left unnoticed.”

The rebels also said: “The silence of the African Union over the war and the atrocities perpetrated by the forces ranged against us was the betrayal of the foundational principles of the African Union. We have consistently condemned the failure of the African Union chairperson and his High Representative to take a position consistent with the solemn obligation under the Constitutive Act of the Union.”

It is not clear when and where the impending talks will be held.

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