Ethiopian peace talks are underway in South Africa

Ethiopian peace talks are underway in South Africa


Talks between the Ethiopian government and rebel authorities in Tigray to seek a peaceful solution to their devastating two-year conflict would resume on Monday, a diplomat said.

African Union-led negotiations began last Tuesday in South Africa, the first formal dialogue to try to end a war that has killed many thousands and sparked a desperate humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.

South Africa originally said talks in Pretoria would last until Sunday, but they remain classified.

Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a message to AFP that “there was no time limit on the talks”.

A diplomat with knowledge of the talks confirmed to AFP that talks would resume on Monday without giving further details, adding: “They are very strict about confidentiality.”

A source close to the Tigrayan delegation in South Africa told AFP over the weekend that talks are expected to last until Tuesday.

Intense fighting has continued unabated in Tigray since negotiations began, where government forces backed by the Eritrean Army and regional forces are conducting artillery and airstrikes and capturing a number of towns from the rebels.

Diplomatic efforts to bring the government and the rebels to the negotiating table gained momentum after fighting resumed in late August, torpedoing a five-month truce that had allowed limited aid to Tigray.

The international community has expressed deep concern at the ongoing fighting and the human cost it is inflicting on civilians caught in the crossfire.

She is demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access to Tigray, where many are starving, and a withdrawal of Eritrean forces whose return to the conflict has raised fears of renewed atrocities against civilians.

The conflict erupted on November 4, 2020, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed dispatched troops to Tigray after accusing the region’s ruling People’s Liberation Front of Tigray (TPLF) of attacking federal army camps.

Fighting in Africa’s second most populous country has displaced more than two million people and killed up to half a million, according to US estimates.

However, Tigray remains largely closed to the outside world, with no communications and a shortage of food, fuel and medicines, while access to northern Ethiopia is restricted for journalists.

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