The Ethiopian government expressed “dissatisfaction” with US and European special envoys returning to the Tigray region, saying they had accepted preconditions for peace talks set by the rebels.
Since November 2020, there has been an armed conflict between the federal government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Both sides confirm that they have been ready to start negotiations for several weeks, but so far no progress has been made.
During a visit to Ethiopia, U.S. and European Union Special Envoys to the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer and Annette Webber traveled Tuesday with European ambassadors to Mekele, the Tigray capital, to “encourage initiation of negotiations” between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front “under the auspices of the African union.”
Radwan Hussain, national security adviser to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, tweeted on Thursday that upon their return, “I spoke with a team of diplomats and voiced the government’s displeasure.”
He said the diplomats “did not insist on a firm commitment to peace talks and preferred to play the game of appeasement and preconditions put forward by the rebels in Tigray.
In a joint statement, the two special envoys called for the restoration of essential services (electricity, communications and banking) that had been denied to Tigray for over a year and the removal of government restrictions on the transfer of “money, fuel and fertilizer.” and “borderless delivery of humanitarian aid” to the region.
“Regarding the restoration of services, the government reaffirmed its position and emphasized the main conditions, that is, the creation of favorable conditions and manifestations of peace for the start of negotiations,” Radwan said.
He noted that in the statement of the special envoys “the story of unlimited humanitarian access is repeated, an issue that has long been resolved: there are no restrictions on either the number of flights or the number of trucks transporting aid, and the issue of fuel was resolved at the end of July.”
However, the UN stressed that “lack of cash and fuel in Tigray seriously harms the distribution of food” to millions of people in need of food assistance.