-The disarmament is scheduled to finalize in six months
-Uhuru Kenyatta set to arrive in Mekelle before end of December
The Team of African Experts (TAE) is granted full access to monitor and verify the disarmament process of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces. After two days of talks in Nairobi on December 22 and 23, 2022, top leaders from the Ethiopian government and the TPLF agreed on the Terms of Reference (ToR).
The meeting finalized the Term of Reference (ToR) of the Joint Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mechanism (JMVCM). The meeting also discussed the implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) process.
“After two days of negotiations, the Parties agreed to a series of actions all aimed at bringing normalcy to Tigray and peace to Ethiopia. The parties agreed on this to give the monitoring and verification team of the AU full access, a 360-degree viewpoint, to ensure all the elements of the agreements are actually going to be implemented,” stated Uhuru Kenyatta, the former president of Kenya and member of the AU panel that facilitated the Pretoria peace agreement and the Nairobi senior commanders agreement.
The AU team is expected to travel to Mekelle with the team and joint Committee, before the end of December.
“We will be in Mekelle in the next few days; observing and verifying the actions. Documents are one thing but we need the deliverables. That is why we go to Mekelle,” added Kenyatta.
A joint committee is formed, presided over by the AU High Panel, with one representative from each party, IGAD. The joint committee controls TPLF’s weapons are stored in locations designated by ENDF. The committee also makes sure TPLF disarmament is complete, and no acquisition, resupply, or transfer of ammunition and weapons, or unauthorized movement of military equipment, is done by TPLF combatants, nor is the use of mines or explosives, nor do they provide assistance to proxies of other armed entities.
The team of experts, on the other hand, undertakes reconnaissance to ensure respect for the disarmament engagement. The TAE is made up of 10 African military experts who help the Joint Committee do its job. The TAE reports everything to the Joint Committee.
The joint committee and the team are set to finalize the job within the next six months, according to the agreement. Members of the team are not allowed to talk to the media during and after the disarmament process.
As part of the two-day discussion in Nairobi, the team will also verify whether there is unrestricted access to humanitarian aid and the resumption of services, including banking, telecommunications, and all other services.
In its statement, the AUC ‘appreciated the Government of the United States of America, Norway, the United Nations, IGAD, the African Development Bank, and ICRC for their continued support for the AU-led process. ‘
Under the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA), the TPLF agreed to hand over its heavy weapons within a month after the peace agreement was signed on November 2, 2022.
Last week, TPLF officials revealed that two-thirds of their combatants have disengaged and their heavy weaponry has been collected into centers. However, the officials complained this could not be verified because the AU verification team is not on the ground.
On the other hand, the federal government is also reporting the resumption of humanitarian assistance and basic services, including banking, telecom, and electricity, in some areas of Tigray.
But now, the compliances on both sides of the federal government and TPLF need AU confirmation, for which the verification team was formed.