Ethiopia: Ceasefire Monitoring Experts’ Term Extended Until December

Addis Abeba — Members of the African Union Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism (AU-MVCM) team during the launching ceremony in Mekelle.

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.