Peace, Please

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The Ethiopian government and rebels in the northern region of Tigray agreed to permanently end hostilities this week, two years after both parties commenced a civil war that would displace millions and threatened to destabilize east Africa, the Guardian reported.

The two warring sides reached the agreement Wednesday following 10 days of negotiations mediated in South Africa by the African Union (AU). Envoys from the AU said the two parties had agreed on an “orderly, smooth, and coordinated disarmament.”

Under the terms of the deal, the two parties agreed to restore law and order in Tigray, as well as restore services and access to humanitarian supplies, which have been hindered since the conflict began in November 2020.

Observers said the removal of all blockades would be seen as a breakthrough, noting that Tigray’s six million inhabitants have been suffering shortages of food and medicine since the war began.

The civil conflict started amid disputes between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the region’s governing Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Abiy has accused the group, which played a leading role in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition until 2018, of trying to reassert Tigrayan dominance in the country. The TPLF, meanwhile, accused the Ethiopian leader of repression and discrimination.

The new deal follows the collapse of an earlier truce in August, which prompted both sides to secure battlefield victories to strengthen their negotiating position.

Abiy called the agreement “monumental,” while Tigrayan negotiators said that “painful concessions” had been made.

Despite the potential for peace, questions linger over the aftermath of the deal, including how soon aid can return to Tigray.

The conflict’s exact death toll remains unknown because of scarce reliable data: Some observers noted that the number of deaths could reach tens or hundreds of thousands.

Another chief concern is Eritrea, which had been aiding Ethiopian troops during the conflict and did not participate in the peace process. Analysts worry that Eritrea’s absence from the negotiations could undermine the prospects for a permanent end to hostilities.

The Eritrean government has not yet commented on the agreement.

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