In Ethiopia, diplomats try to obtain a ceasefire

Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, has been the scene for several days of intense negotiations, unprecedented since the start of a fratricidal war started a year ago, intended to wrest peace between the federal government and the rebels of the Tigrayan Defense Forces. (TDF). “We have never been so close to a ceasefire. It’s now or never “, estimated Friday, November 5 an African diplomat. Sometimes referred to as last-ditch negotiations, this attempt at mediation takes place as the country seems to be on the brink of collapse.

The turn taken by military operations in recent weeks, largely in favor of the rebel coalition, which has seized the two strategic towns of Dessié and Kombolcha, has forced diplomats and leaders to form a form of dialogue expressly. Faced with the advance of the TDF and their threat of ” to walk “ on Addis Ababa, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, visited on Thursday. A mission carried out at the request of the Ethiopian authorities, assure several sources.

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Unacceptable prerequisites

At a press conference in Washington ahead of his visit, Mr. Feltman admitted that the parties to the conflict, rebel as well as federal power, did not seem “Be in no way open to the idea of ​​a de-escalation agreement leading to a negotiated ceasefire and some form of negotiation”. Less than a week later, his meetings with Ethiopian leaders, those of the African Union and some Western partners, however, raise a little hope. Sign that a dialogue is underway: the emissary has decided to postpone his departure from Addis Ababa, initially scheduled for Friday.

Dialogue, but no negotiations yet. If the two parties to the conflict seem a priori willing to start talks, they still come up against unacceptable preconditions for each side. The Tigrayan rebels are said to demand an end to the humanitarian blockade and the restoration of basic services in Tigray. As for the government, it would like the rebel troops from Afar and Amhara to leave, regions where they have made further progress, now located 270 kilometers from Addis Ababa.

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Besides that some diplomats are reserved on the chances of seeing the negotiations succeed quickly, specialists in Ethiopia do not hide their pessimism. “Can we really believe in goodwill negotiations and a ceasefire when both sides keep increasing their war effort? “, asks an analyst who closely follows the evolution of the Ethiopian conflict. The latest developments observed on the battlefield and the rhetoric used by each side indeed reveal an increase in conflict.

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In Ethiopia, diplomats try to obtain a ceasefire

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