– Joint disarmament committee convenes in Shire
– Disarmament yet to begin as the 30-day deadline lapses
The Joint Committee formed to oversee the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) of Tigrayan rebel forces is taking a step towards implementing the disarmament of light weapons.
Officials of the Peace and Security Council at the African Union Commission convened the Joint Committee on December 1, 2022, in the town of Shire, in Tigray regional state, to “work out a comprehensive implementation plan for the disarmament of light weapons in the Tigray Region,” according to an AUC statement.
The Joint Committee was formed when the Declaration of the Senior Commander was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, on November 1, 2022, between Birhanu Jula (field marshal), the chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), and Tadesse Worede (Gen.), leader of the Tigrayan forces. The Joint Committee is made up of representatives of the government, the TPLF, and the African Union.
The Shire meeting is the first of its kind the two parties met inside Ethiopia.
“The Shire meeting is a major confidence-building measure in furtherance of the Parties’ commitment to fully implement the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) for lasting peace and stability in Ethiopia. The AU wishes to commend the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the TPLF for this significant milestone in the peace process,” added the AUC statement.
After the shire meeting, TPLF officials announced their forces were already disengaging and withdrawing from barracks. The positive development comes just a week after TPLF officials complained to former President and African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, that the TPLF will not disarm unless Eritrean forces leave Tigray’s borders.
“Eritrean forces are already evacuating,” Bacha Debele, a former army general and current Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya, said during a virtual meeting. “The next step is planning and deciding whether the TPLF forces will be retrained or reintegrated. Then the disarmament starts with heavy weapons and then moves to light weapons.”
The ambassador says the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and retraining (DDRR) plan will be approved by President Obasanjo.
The joint committee, which is already in Shire, will take three days to plan the DDRR, according to Bacha.
A Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mechanism (MVCM) will be on the ground to follow up on the disarmament process, according to the Pretoria and Nairobi agreements. The MVCM directly reports to an AU panel chaired by Obasanjo.
As per the Pretoria agreement of November 2, Tigrian forces disarm within 30 days after the agreement. But officials of both sides now say disarmament can take months and even up to year.