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Ethiopian Foreign Ministry welcomed ceasefire efforts
Addis Ababa(ANN)-Senior diplomats from the African Union and the United States returned to Ethiopia on Thursday as part of efforts to mediate a ceasefire in the north of the country, according to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry.
“They came today. Both of them,” ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said, referring to Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, and his American counterpart Jeffrey Feltman.
The two diplomats, who also visited Ethiopia earlier this month, aimed at facilitating an agreement between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters in the north of the country, their second trip to the capital Addis. Ababa.
Former President of Nigeria, Obasanjo made two trips to Tigray’s capital Mekele to meet TPLF leaders on his earlier trip, a sign of progress after multiple statements in which the TPLF dismissed the AU, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, as biased in favor of Abiy’s government.
A TPLF source told AFP on Thursday that Obasanjo may return to Mekele this week.
At a weekly press conference on Thursday, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ambassador Dina said Obasanjo was “coordinating various forces” as part of a “kind of fact-finding operation.”
“I think he is investigating, he is talking to his various partners, at the end of the day, he will come up with a proposal, that proposal is not yet clear,” he said.
Also, he added “The same is true for Mr. Feltman,”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed Washington’s call for a ceasefire during a visit to Kenya on Wednesday, his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa since becoming President Joe Biden’s top diplomat.
Kenya has also played a role in trying to end the conflict, and Foreign Minister Raychelle Omamo told a joint news conference Wednesday that her government believes “a ceasefire is possible”.
The ceasefire is accompanied by a joint US-British operation, with Russia deploying special forces in Djibouti, which is scheduled to operate in Ethiopia.
Though he promised a swift victory, by late June the TPLF had retaken most of Tigray including its capital Mekele, and its fighters have since pushed into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.
Last week Dina said any “peaceful solution” would require the TPLF’s withdrawal from Afar and Amhara, something the TPLF has dismissed as “an absolute non-starter” as a condition for talks.
The TPLF, meanwhile, has called on Abiy’s government to break what it describes as a humanitarian “siege” of Tigray, where the UN estimates hundreds of thousands of people are living in famine-like conditions.
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By Arraale M Jama Freelance Journalist and Human Rights activist.