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Ethiopia unveils plan to end war, calls for ceasefire with Tigray rebels

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses lawmakers at the parliament in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Thursday, July 7, 2022.   -  
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The spokesperson for the Ethiopian Prime Minister's Office announced Wednesday, the 7-member peace committee had drawn up a "proposal" to start ceasefire talks with the rebels and end the war in the northern region.

Will a ceasefire agreement and a national dialogue end the 20-month-long war in northern Ethiopia? On Wednesday, the spokesperson for the Ethiopian Prime Minister's Office insisted the government wanted talks with rebel leaders in the Tigray region to start.

For this purpose, a plan was drawn up by a 7-member peace committee established in June.

"The peace proposal is three-pronged. Firstly, it proposes for peace talks to happen within the coming weeks towards an agreed ceasefire. Secondly, it proposes to undertake an in-depth political dialogue between the parties leading towards a settlement. Thirdly, it proposes for other pending issues to be addressed through a national dialogue", Billene Seyoum, the Press Secretary for the PM's office detailed.

The TPLF rebels dismissed the committee's call as an "obfuscation". If both sides have named negotiators, the parties differ on several issues and prerequisites to the talks. The rebels for example want a return of basic services in the war-stricken northern region.

A demand that cannot be granted at the moment, the press secretary explained: "For the basic services to happen we are saying that a conducive operable environment needs to happen which guarantees the safety of federal service providers to operate freely and with guarantees that their safety is facilitated within the region [...] And at the moment with a very vocally belligerent and illegally armed group operating at its own whim and refusing to accept peace talks, the required enabling and secure environment is lacking for the restoration of services."

Fighting has eased since a humanitarian truce was declared at the end of March but a political solution has yet to be found. The rebels and the government haven't agreed on a mediator. The African Union leads efforts to end the conflict that has killed thousands and left millions displaced.

'Only solution is peace'

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda accused the government defying "oft-repeated promise to take measures aimed at creating conducive environment for peaceful negotiations".

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is from the restive region, on Wednesday described the "man-made catastrophe" there as the "worst disaster on Earth" and slammed global leaders for overlooking the humanitarian crisis.

"This unimaginable cruelty must end. The only solution is peace," he said at a press conference in Geneva.

The war in northern Ethiopia was unleashed when the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for three decades Abiy was accused of attacking federal army camps.

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