PM Abiy and Sec. Blinken in December last year during the US-Africa Summit in Washingotn D.C.. Photo: PMO
Addis Abeba – In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed today, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “underscored the importance of immediately implementing the cessation of hostilities agreement, including withdrawal of all foreign forces and concurrent disarmament of the Tigrayan forces,” according to the official readout.
The Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF signed the cessation of hostilities agreement in Pretoria, South Africa on 02 November 2022, followed by on the “Declaration on the Modalities for the Implementation of the Pretoria agreement”, which was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, on 12 November.
Under the “Disarmament of Tigray armed combatants” of the Nairobi Declaration stated that “disarmament of heavy weapons will be done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region.”
The African Union’s Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mission (MVCM) team, which was subsequently appointed to oversee the disarmament process, had confirmed the start of the disarmament as Tigrayan combatants handed over heavy weapons to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.
On 26 May, as part of continued disarmament process, the Tigrayan forces handed-over group weapons in the presence of representatives of the African Union MVCM at a special place called Lachi, near Mekelle city.
Despite the progress however, the complete withdrawal of Eritrean and non-ENDF forces from Tigray, which falls under the responsibility of the federal government, remained illusive. While announcing the demobilization of more than 50,000 former Tigrayan combatants last week, General Tadesse Werede, deputy president of Tigray interim administration, and head of the cabinet secretariat for peace and security, said that these forces are still occupying Tigray’s territory.
“The federal government must be committed to withdrawing non-ENDF forces and facilitating the return of internally displaced persons to their rightful places,” Gen. Tadesse said.
In his phone call today, Sec. Blinken “recognized ongoing efforts by the Ethiopian government to work towards unhindered humanitarian assistance and restoration of basic services in the Tigray Region as well as in the neighboring Afar and Amhara Regions,” the readout says, without mentioning the current crisis in the Amhara regional state that led to a declaration of a six-month state of emergency today.
“He noted that the United States remains committed to supporting the African Union-led process, including the AU monitoring and verification mechanism.” AS