– AU team plans to visit Humera and western Tigray
– Tigray Region’s leader accuses Eritrea of trying to sabotage the peace process
The African Union Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mission (AU-MVCM) says the Disarmament program of the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) has reached a critical stage.
After visiting Mekelle for two days, Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, Director of Conflict Management at the AU, stated on Friday that his team observed “sustained positive gains in Tigray, driven by the overall goodwill of the parties and the population embracing peace and working assiduously to rebuild their region.”
“The next critical phase of the DDR process must focus on small arms and light weapons, the clearance of unexploded ordinances, and the full reintegration of former combatants,” reads the AU statement.
After visits from AU officials and military attaches, Major General Stephen Radina, the Kenyan general leading the AU-MVCM in Tigray, gave a press briefing at Planet Hotel in Mekelle on Friday. He said disarmament of heavy weapons in Tigray has surpassed 85 percent.
The MVCM was launched in December 2022 after the Pretoria agreement was signed. The National Reintegration Commission (NRC) is also preparing to rehabilitate close to 200,000 ex-combatants of the TDF.
“We have witnessed the disarmament of heavy weapons and air force systems in Mekelle,” said Major General Radina.
Radina and his team are planning to visit Humera and parts of western Tigray by next month, areas they have not yet been able to access. Disarmament of mortars and anti-tanks will be finalized in the coming weeks.
However, Radina said “there are still war remnants in Shire, Axum, Alamata and other areas. We are working to clear them.”
He says this results in accidents when farmers resume activities and students start going to schools.
Roland Kobia, EU ambassador to Ethiopia, was also in Mekelle along the AU team.
Alhaji, despite praising the gains made in implementing the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), said “it is also important not to lose sight of the emerging and remaining challenges along the path to lasting peace. We commend the steps taken to put in place a transitional justice framework to address issues of accountability, reconciliation and healing.”
However, Getachew Reda, president of the Tigray Interim Administration (TIA), told the visitors that there is a more pressing challenge hampering the implementation of CoHA.
“I apologize if I am creating inconveniences for Major General Radina who wants to keep those things as much private as possible. But he has been suffering at the hands of the Eritrean forces who still want to sabotage the peace process,” Getachew said.