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Ethiopian govt, rebels agree on humanitarian access to Tigray

Chief of Staff of Ethiopian Armed Forces (L) and Head of the Tigray Forces Lieutenan (R), exchange signed copies of an agreement at Ethiopian peace talks in Kenya Nov 12,2022   -  
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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.


Warring sides in the Ethiopian conflict agreed on a peace roadmap Saturday (Nov 12).

The Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces and the Head of the Tigray Forces signed an agreement in Nairobi Kenya that they said calls for disengagement from all forms of military activities.

Both parties assented to protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid in the war-torn northern region of Tigray.

The African Union-led talks in Nairobi followed the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by Ethiopia and Tigray leaders in South Africa last week.

"We want to express our full commitment to bringing peace and stability to our people and country. Therefore, we will fully dedicate our service to implement the Pretoria agreement and this declaration", Field Marshal Birhanu Jula, the chief of staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces said.

"To this end, we would like to affirm our full commitment to the people of Ethiopia, to this panel and to the world", he concluded.

"We have suffered a lot of misery over the last two years and still continue to suffer. The commitment we are making today is with the hope and expectations that our people's suffering will come to an end soon", General Tadesse Werede, the commander-in-chief of Tigray forces doubled down.

The commanders, who'd been meeting since November signed the agreement on November 12.

The agreement states that disarmament will be "done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-(Ethiopian military) forces" from Tigray.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is helping to facilitate the talks, said Saturday that “humanitarian aid should have resumed like yesterday." Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also involved in the talks, thanked the commanders for their commitment to peace.

According to the lead negotiator for the Ethiopian federal government, the next meeting of military leaders will "most likely" be held in Tigray in mid-December before a final meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, in January.

The Tigray conflict began in November 2020. The brutal fighting spilt into Amhara and Afar regions as Tigrayan forces tried to break the military blockade of their region. 

The war in Africa’s second-most populous country, which marked two years on Nov. 4, has seen abuses documented on both sides, with millions of people displaced and many near famine.

It reignited in August after months of lull that allowed thousands of trucks carrying humanitarian aid into Tigray.

Phone and internet connections to Tigray are still down, and foreign journalists and human rights researchers remain barred, complicating efforts to verify reports of ongoing violence in the region.

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