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Ethiopia says African Union's mediation only avenue for talks with Tigray rebels

Refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia board buses to a Um Rakuba refugee camp after spending days to weeks at a UNHCR reception center located in the east Sudanese border village of Hamdayet on December 7, 2020 in Hamdayet, Sudan [Byron Smith/Getty Images]
Refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia board buses on December 7, 2020 [Byron Smith/Getty Images]

Ethiopia said on Thursday that no "parallel" effort would be pursued for talks with Tigray rebels other than the mediation by the African Union with former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as the facilitator, Anadolu Agency reports.

Addressing a weekly press briefing, Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Meles Alem reiterated Ethiopia's stand to engage in talks with the Tigray rebels without any precondition.

A widely circulated social media report last week suggested that the African Union Commission had recommended the inclusion of the UN, US, and EU in the mediation.

That document purported to be issued by the African Union Commission's Political Affairs, Peace and Security Commission "is a fake document," said the spokesperson.

He, however, said the African Union Commission may, if necessary, engage renowned Africans to support Obasanjo in his efforts.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) put forth a slew of demands as a precondition to the talks, including immediate restoration of electric, telecom and banking services.

READ: Ethiopia seeks peace to solve issues with Sudan, says PM

Meles, however, reiterated readiness to provide Tigray, a region of roughly six million people, with those basic services through consultations.

On Aug. 2, the US and EU special envoys for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer and Annette Weber were in Mekele, capital of the Tigray region, as part of their weeklong Ethiopia visit aimed to "encourage the launch of talks" between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF under the auspices of the African Union.

"Political dialogue is necessary to resolve the conflict in northern Ethiopia and achieve durable peace," the envoys said in a press release issued following their Mekele trip, welcoming the public commitment by both parties to engage in talks.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been one of the most vocal critics of the Ethiopian government in its relation with the Tigray rebels.

On Wednesday, he tweeted that where else on earth is a government denying 6 million people access to their money by bank closures for 20 months?

TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years at the head of a four-party coalition until its demise in 2018 through years of popular protests against a deeply corrupt oligarchy, bad governance, and human rights violations.

 

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AfricaAfrican UnionEthiopiaEUInternational OrganisationsNewsUN
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