The Ethio- Sudan border conflict, coupled with disagreement between warring parties over third party mediator, is muddying the waters for the anticipated peace talks between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Earlier this week, the ruling prosperity party of Ethiopia announced it seeks the African Union to mediate the peace talks.
On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonen expressed Ethiopia’s commitment to support the AU-led peace initiative and commended African countries for standing in solidarity with Ethiopia, in this trying times.
However, the TPLF said it does not trust the AU led peace process and instead wants Kenya to mediate the conflict.
Press secretary of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), Billene Seyoum, in a press briefing held on Thursday mentioned Kenya is fully supportive of the AU-led initiative. “Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, is a friend of Ethiopia. He, like other actors around the region, wants peace to prevail in our country and the region, Billene said.
“Uhuru supports our principled approach as Ethiopians for African solutions to African problems, particularly concerning peace and security matters,” said Billene.
The peace talks are also overshadowed by forces, what the federal government regards as a geopolitical security threat underpinned within the country.
According to Billene, from the upcoming awaited peace talks and mediation, Ethiopia aspires and prefers peace as an essential for the country’s political and economic reform initiatives to succeed. The government intends to put an end to a tragic chapter in the country’s history and move on forward to foster a national consensus through national dialogue.
Minister of Justice, Gideon Timotiwos, in his recent briefing outlined the possible outcome of the peace process to be bound by these three principles including; respect for the constitutional order, respect for fundamental national interest and the role of the African Union as the facilitator of the process.
The peace process is also being tested by the border clash between Ethiopia and Sudan. The government labeled the incident as being designed to derail Ethiopia from its path of peace and development.
The clashes took place around the al-Fashaqa region, where land disputes between Sudanese and Ethiopian farmers have simmered for decades. The Ethiopian government is blaming the TPLF, as an orchestrator and organizer together with Sudanese military forces.
Demeke, briefing African Ambassadors and Diplomats about the current situation in Ethiopia, called on the international community to put pressure on the TPLF to refrain from provocations for another round of conflict.
The TPLF has denied all the allegations of killing and orchestrating the killings of innocent civilians. Experts are warning that the back and forth allegations might delay and hamper the peace process.