Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed on Tuesday “to implement honestly” a ceasefire agreement between his government and forces in Tigray, which he said was necessary to ensure peace proved sustainable.
The truce signed on November 2 agreed to end two years of war that has devastated the Tigray region, killing thousands, displacing millions and threatening the unity of Africa’s second-most populous nation.
Abiy’s government and representatives from Tigray on Saturday signed a further deal for implementing the ceasefire.
“We have moved one step forward. We have discussed, agreed and signed. The next thing expected from us will be to implement honestly what we have promised to make the peace sustainable,” Abiy told Ethiopia’s national parliament after hearing questions from lawmakers.
The comments were his first on the truce since he issued a statement on November 2.
The war, which has pitted Abiy’s government against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – the party which dominates the region – is rooted in old grievances between the political elites of ethnically-based regions, built up over decades of turmoil, violent regime change, territorial disputes between regions and long periods of authoritarian rule.
Abiy, whose ascent to power in 2018 ended nearly three decades of dominance by the TPLF over Ethiopia’s central government, has accused the TPLF of seeking to reassert its power at the national level.
The TPLF has accused him of centralising power at the expense of the regions and oppressing Tigrayans. Each side rejects the other’s narrative.
Under the implementation deal, the parties pledged to allow unhindered humanitarian aid into Tigray — international aid is still to reach the war-ravaged region nearly two weeks since the ceasefire.
The deal also made it explicit that disarmament would happen alongside foreign and other forces, excluding the Ethiopian army, withdrawing from the region.
Troops from neighbouring Eritrea, as well as forces from other Ethiopian regions, have fought on the side of the Ethiopian army.
Analysts have raised concerns about whether the Eritrean forces will withdraw.
Abiy said on Tuesday that a territorial dispute between forces in Tigray and the neighbouring Amhara region should be resolved legally and through discussion.
Fighters from Amhara entered western Tigray in November 2020 in support of federal troops and took control of a swathe of territory they say was historically theirs. Tigrayan officials say the area has long been home to both ethnic groups.
Authorities in Amhara last week welcomed the ceasefire agreement but made no mention of the disputed territory.