Blinken reiterates importance of cessation of hostilities in Tigray to Ethiopian Prime Minister

Archive – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses Parliament. – OFICINA DEL PRIMER MINISTRO DE ETIOPÍA

U.S. State Department Secretary Antony Blinken has reiterated in a call to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed the importance of the cessation of hostilities in Tigray, noting the need for the «withdrawal of all foreign forces,» a reference to Eritrea’s participation in the war in support of Addis Ababa.

Blinken’s spokesman, Ned Price, announced that the Secretary of State had spoken with Ahmed «about efforts to achieve a lasting peace in northern Ethiopia.»

«The secretary has stressed the importance of immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement, including the withdrawal of all foreign forces and the concurrent disarmament of Tigray forces,» Price explained through a press release.

Furthermore, «Blinken acknowledged the Ethiopian government’s continued efforts to work towards unimpeded humanitarian assistance and the restoration of basic services.»

The State Department also reiterated its commitment to supporting the African Union (AU)-led dialogue process.

The Ethiopian government said Tuesday it is «fully complying» with its responsibilities under the ceasefire agreement with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after nearly two years of conflict in the northern region of the country.

The head of the Government Communications Service, Legesse Tulu, defended that lasting peace will be achieved if there is «will» on the part of the parties and advocated «healing the wounds». Legesse said the government is «facilitating» the delivery of humanitarian aid in Tigray, one of Addis Ababa’s key commitments.

Legesse’s remarks come after senior TPLF officials said on Sunday that the group is working to «rescue» the population after two years of war and defended the agreement reached with the government and the continuation of talks towards the signing of peace.

Tsadkan Gebretensae and Getachew Reda, senior leaders of the TPLF, said in statements to local broadcaster DW TV that the Eritrean military continues to commit «atrocities» against civilians in the region. «Our intention with the peace agreement is to save our people from death by starvation, lack of medicine, atrocities, displacement and other abuses,» Tsadkan said.

The conflict in Tigray erupted in November 2020 following a TPLF attack on the army’s main base in Mekelle, after which the Abiy government ordered an offensive against the group following months of tensions at the political and administrative level, including the TPLF’s refusal to recognize an election postponement and its decision to hold regional polls outside Addis Ababa.

The TPLF accuses Abiy of whipping up tensions since coming to power in April 2018, when he became the first Oromo to accede to office. Until then, the TPLF had been the dominant force within Ethiopia’s ruling coalition since 1991, the ethnically-supported Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The group opposed Abiy’s reforms, which it saw as an attempt to undermine its influence.