BREAKING: Ex-president Obasanjo restores peace in Ethiopia after 2 yrs of bloody war | NN NEWS

The parties in the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray have agreed on a “permanent cessation of hostilities”, the African Union mediator said, just over a week after formal peace talks began in South Africa.

Al Jazeera reports that the former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo, in the first briefing on the peace talks, also said Ethiopia’s government and Tigray authorities have agreed on “orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament” along with “restoration of law and order,” “restoration of services” and “unhindered access to humanitarian supplies.”

The agreement marked a new “dawn” for Ethiopia, he said, speaking at a press conference.

The war, which broke out in November 2020, pits regional forces from Tigray against Ethiopia’s federal army and its allies, who include forces from other regions and from neighbouring Eritrea.

“It is now for all of us to honor this agreement,” said the lead negotiator for Ethiopia’s government, Redwan Hussein.

Tigray’s rebels hailed the deal and said they had made “concessions.”

“We are ready to implement and expedite this agreement,” said the head of their delegation, Getachew Reda.

“In order to address the pains of our people, we have made concessions because we have to build trust.”

“Ultimately, the fact that we have reached a point where we have now signed an agreement speaks volumes about the readiness on the part of the two sides to lay the past behind them to chart a new path of peace,” said Reda.

The conflict, which has at times spilled out of Tigray into the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar, has killed thousands of people, displaced millions from their homes and left hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine.

Neither Eritrea nor regional forces allied with the Ethiopian army took part in the talks in South Africa and it was unclear whether they would abide by the agreement reached there.

Eritrean forces have been blamed for some of the conflict’s worst abuses, including gang-rapes, and witnesses have described killings and lootings by Eritrean forces even during the peace talks.

Obasanjo, who has been leading the African Union’s mediation team, said the implementation of the agreement would be supervised and monitored by a high-level African Union panel. He praised the process as an African solution to an African problem and said the agreement would allow humanitarian supplies to Tigray to be restored.

A critical question is how soon aid can return to Tigray, whose communications and transport links have been largely severed since the conflict began. Doctors have described running out of basic medicines like vaccines, insulin and therapeutic food while people die of easily preventable diseases and starvation.

United Nations human rights investigators have said the Ethiopian government was using “starvation of civilians” as a weapon of war.

“We’re back to 18th century surgery,” a surgeon at the region’s flagship hospital, Fasika Amdeslasie, told health experts at an online event Wednesday. “It’s like an open-air prison.”

A humanitarian source said their organisation could resume operations almost immediately if unfettered aid access to Tigray is granted.

“It entirely depends on what the government agrees to … If they genuinely give us access, we can start moving very quickly, in hours, not weeks,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly.

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