AU envoy warns Ethiopia talks will fail with out ceasefire

Olusegun Obasanjo, who leads worldwide push to finish brutal battle, appeals to warring sides to halt army operations.

Olusegun Obasanjo, the African Union’s particular envoy for the Horn of Africa, has expressed hope dialogue can finish Ethiopia’s year-long conflict however warned “such talks cannot deliver” with out a direct ceasefire.

The former Nigerian president is main a world push to finish a brutal battle that has price hundreds of lives and displaced greater than two million individuals, with a whole lot of hundreds going through famine-like situations.

In addition to Obasanjo, who left Ethiopia on Thursday after assembly Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the management of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) insurgent group, United States particular envoy Jeffrey Feltman additionally visited the nation final week for talks.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has additionally participated in regional mediation efforts, landed in Ethiopia on a shock one-day go to on Sunday, with Abiy posting images of the pair on Twitter.

Obasanjo mentioned in a press release he was “optimistic that common ground towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict can be secured”.

But with combating intensifying in latest weeks, he warned that “such talks cannot deliver in an environment of escalated military hostilities”.

“I, therefore, appeal to the leadership of all sides to halt their military offensives. This will allow an opportunity for dialogue to continue to progress.”

His feedback got here forward of a go to to a few African nations by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has backed Obasanjo’s efforts at mediation and threatened to impose sanctions on Abiy’s authorities and the TPLF until they move ahead on talks.

Ethiopia on Thursday laid out situations for doable talks with the TPLF, together with a halt to assaults and the withdrawal from the areas of Amhara and Afar bordering the northern Tigray area.

“There are conditions: First, stop your attacks. Secondly, leave the areas you have entered [Amhara and Afar]. Third, recognise the legitimacy of this government,” Ethiopia’s international ministry spokesman Dina Mufti instructed reporters on Thursday.

But TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda has beforehand mentioned that pulling out from Amhara and Afar earlier than talks start is “an absolute non-starter”. The Tigrayan forces mentioned earlier this month they’d seized Kemise, 325km (200 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa, and threatened to march on it.

The authorities, nevertheless has accused the TPLF of exaggerating their territorial good points and insists that the battle “is not coming to the capital”.

The TPLF can also be demanding the top of what the United Nations describes as a de facto humanitarian blockade on Tigray, the place a whole lot of hundreds of individuals are believed to be living in famine-like situations.

Abiy despatched troops into Tigray final November to topple the TPLF, a move he mentioned got here in response to insurgent assaults on military camps.

Though the 2019 Nobel Peace laureate pledged a swift victory, by late June the TPLF had retaken most of Tigray earlier than increasing into Amhara and Afar.