June 17, 2024

Biden administration reacts to Ethiopia-Tigray truce to end devastating war

The United States government on Wednesday welcomed the announcement that Ethiopian and Tigrayan negotiators have formally signed a truce to end a devastating war that has left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

“We welcome the momentous step taken in Pretoria today to advance the African Union’s campaign to “silence the guns” with the signing of a cessation of hostilities between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front,” United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement. “We commend the parties for taking this initial step to agree to end the fighting and continue dialogue to resolve outstanding issues to consolidate peace and bring an end to almost two years of conflict. We welcome the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and the protection of civilians that should result from implementation of this agreement.”

Blinken added that “the United States commends AU Commission Chairman Faki for his leadership as well as the extraordinary efforts of AU High Representative Obasanjo, former South African Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka, and former Kenyan President Kenyatta, whose facilitation led to this significant step toward peace. We also commend South Africa for generously hosting the talks.”

“The United States remains a committed partner to this AU-led process and to our collaboration with the UN, IGAD, and other regional and international partners to support implementation of today’s agreement. We welcome the statement of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy expressing gratitude to the AU and share our support for his desire for an enhanced partnership to support reconstruction and development for all communities in northern Ethiopia affected by the conflict,” he said.

Blinken also spoke with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor on Wednesday and “expressed appreciation for South Africa’s hosting and mediation of AU-led peace talks, which led to the cessation of hostilities signed today by the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.”

“He noted that the United States will remain closely engaged to support the continued AU-led efforts in the weeks ahead,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

At a press briefing in Washington with former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Price also commented on the truce between the Ethiopian federal government and Tigrayan authorities.  Kerry was at the State Department to preview COP which is coming up in the coming days.

Price said, “First, and importantly, the African Union’s announcement of the signing of a cessation of hostilities between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front represents an important step towards peace.  We applaud the parties for their commitment to peace and reaching this agreement.

“We commend the African Union Panel – former President Obasanjo, former President Kenyatta, and former Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka – on their extraordinary leadership and determined efforts to facilitate this peace process.  We commend as well the work of the African Union: its Commission Chairperson Faki, South African President Ramaphosa, and Foreign Minister Pandor as hosts and international partners, including the United Nations and IGAD.

“The United States remains committed to supporting this African Union-led process and to partnering to advance peace in northern Ethiopia.”

At the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the United States remains “committed to the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ethiopia,” when asked to react to the truce.

“We seek peace and stability in Ethiopia to build upon the longstanding, strong partnership between our governments and people,” she said. “The United States commends the African Union panel on their extraordinary leadership to determine efforts to facilitate talks, as well as the work of the African Union Commission; South Africa,” and other international partners, including the the United Nations, she said.

Both parties agreed to end hostilities, disarm and allow unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia bordering Eritrea.

The full document has not been released yet, but former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who acted as the African Union mediator announced that “both parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly smooth and coordinated disarmament, restoration of services, unhindered humanitarian supplies,” and the protection of civilians.

The agreement was praised by both lead negotiators, Redwan Hussein, who is the national security adviser to Ethiopia’s federal government, and Getachew Reda of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

“Our sisters and brothers from Africa remained true to their principled stance that Ethiopia must own and resolve their difference, Redwan Hussein said on live television. He added that he hopes others will learn “such a generous and firm direction.” He said that time has come for Ethiopia to “revitalize relations with our partners.”

Getachew Reda of the TPLF called for the deal to be “immediately implemented,” asserting that fighters and civilians were dying.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya who helped facilitate the talks warned that the “The devil will be in the implementation.”

The war in Ethiopia, which broke out in 2020 following months of worsening relations with the Ethiopian federal government in the South has devastated the nation and destabilized the Horn of Africa.

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