Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says his government has formed a committee to negotiate with the northern Tigray region’s forces.
Fighting erupted in Tigray in November 2020 and spilled over into the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara last year, but it has eased since the federal government declared a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire in March.
“Regarding the peace, a committee has been established,” Abiy told parliament on Tuesday. “Negotiation needs a lot of work. A committee has been established and it will study how we will conduct talks,” he said.
He said Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen was leading the committee, which will have 10 to 15 days to work on finer details of what will be negotiated.
The war between the national government forces and its allies, and those loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has upset government plans to modernise the economy and has deterred some foreign investors.
But more importantly, the conflict has also driven hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of famine, more than two million people have been displaced. Nearly nine million people have been left in need of food aid, according to the United Nations.
In June, the Norwegian Refugee Council said the conflict was one of the world’s 10 most neglected displacement crises.
Tigray’s leaders accuse Abiy of wanting to centralise power at the expense of the regions. He accuses them of wanting to regain national power, which they lost to him after he was appointed prime minister in 2018.