Africa

Second attempt to convene talks in SA to end Ethiopian civil war, as fighting escalates | News24

A second attempt is underway to convene talks in South Africa to end the hostilities in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, but fighting seems to be intensifying.

South Africa’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Edward Xolisa Makaya, announced the talks initiative in Addis Ababa on Tuesday at a seminar on Africa’s development potential in different global futures.

“All of us are pained to see the suffering occasioned by the ongoing conflict in the northern part of this country,” he said.

He added that “the parties have agreed to start the [ceasefire] talks, and those talks, now public knowledge, will be taking place in the motherland of Nelson Mandela.”

Makaya said he hoped the talks would lead to a breakthrough.

He said:

We hope that when the parties converge in the next few days, somewhere in South Africa, they will have the blessings of Nelson Mandela, and that they will put the interests of the people of Ethiopia up front.

A fortnight ago, the first attempt to convene peace talks collapsed after Tigray officials raised concerns about their security and the issues on the agenda.

Their concerns and the eventual failure of the talks initiative were compounded by an announcement from former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta – one of the facilitators – that the dates clashed with another event on his schedule. He also said that he had not been properly briefed.

On Monday, the European Union (EU) also threw its weight behind the talks initiative as fighting seemed to be intensifying.

In a statement, EU spokesperson on foreign affairs and security Nabila Massrali called “on Ethiopia’s regional neighbours to contribute to the de-escalation of the conflict and refrain from any actions that may fuel the conflict”.

She said talks were long overdue and a lasting solution should be made.

Massrali said:

The EU commends and supports the ongoing efforts of the AU-led mediation to convene in the coming days for the launch of negotiations between both parties to the conflict.

“The EU expects the conflict parties to honour their commitments to the talks, which must begin without delay,” she added.

Continued fighting, however, clouds the latest attempt to revive peace talks.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists the UN was ready to assist Africa to end the fighting.

The Ethiopian government has placed the blame for renewed hostilities on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Ethiopia’s communication service said:

This is the third time in two years that the TPLF has dragged the country into conflict.

On Monday, Ethiopia claimed that the TPLF deliberately launched attacks after it agreed to the AU-led peace initiative.

Tigray’s transitional government made similar counterclaims.

Over the weekend, African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat pleaded with the parties to “recommit to dialogue, as per their agreement for direct talks to be convened in South Africa, by a high-level team led by the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa and supported by the international community”.

On Tuesday, media reports in East Africa claimed that Ethiopian government forces and their allies had captured Shire, one of the largest cities in Tigray.

Shire is located about 140km northwest of Tigray’s regional capital, Mekelle, and is home to tens of thousands of people who have been displaced from other areas due to the conflict.


The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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