African Union invites Ethiopia, Tigray to peace talks in South Africa
FILE - In this image from video, Tigray's regional president Debretsion Gebremichael speaks during an interview in Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on July 7, 2021. The leader of Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region and the federal government have been invited to peace talks in South Africa in early October 2022 as part of a pan-African effort, according to a letter seen Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022 by The Associated Press. (AP Photo)
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A diplomat in Addis Ababa said the African Union was still waiting for a response from the Tigray side. The spokesman for the Tigray forces, Getachew Reda, could not immediately be reached. Another member of the Tigray negotiation team, Tsadkan Gebretensae, told a U.S. think tank last week that “we have agreed on an African-led process, but that should not be carte blanche for the AU to impose what should be a peace process.”

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies claims to show unidentified military forces mobilized in the town of Sheraro, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. New satellite imagery shows military mobilization in Sheraro, which a humanitarian worker this month described to the AP as being targeted by deadly shelling that caused tens of thousands of people to flee. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

Will peace talks end civil war between Ethiopia and Tigray region?

The diplomat in Addis Ababa also said representatives from the European Union, the United Nations and the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development are expected to attend the talks as observers in support of the AU’s mediation team. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The letter from the chair of the AU Commission says the AU-convened talks would be “aimed at laying the foundation for a structured and sustained mediation” between the two sides toward a “durable resolution of the conflict.”

The AU letter says the talks would be facilitated by AU special envoy and former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo with the support of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.


The talks come more than a month after fighting in Tigray renewed following months of relative calm. Forces from neighboring Eritrea, allied with Ethiopia’s government, are again joining the fighting in what Tigray forces have described as a large-scale offensive.

War continues to displace civilians in major humanitarian crisis

On Tuesday, an airstrike hit the Tigray town of Adi Daero where displaced people were sheltering, a humanitarian worker who visited the site afterward told the AP. They described the scene as “total carnage” and said health workers reported more than 50 people killed. The worker spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The Tigray region has been largely cut off from the world since the war began in November 2020, with more than 5 million people without basic services including electricity, phone, internet and banking. Medicines have run desperately low. On Thursday, the U.N. said trapped staffers were finally able to rotate out of the region for the first time since the fighting renewed.

The fighting also has spilled over into Ethiopia’s neighboring regions of Amara and Afar as Tigray forces have tried to pressure the government, putting hundreds of thousands of other civilians at risk.


United Nations-based investigators have said all sides have committed abuses.

Tigray makes demands of peace process

Tsadkan, the Tigray negotiation team member, said last week that Tigray representatives had met three times with Ethiopian authorities — in Djibouti and Seychelles — and he thanked the United States government for organizing the meetings, which he said produced a “clear proposal for a cessation of hostilities.” But after that, he asserted, the Tigray side was “betrayed.” He didn’t give details.

The Tigray authorities seek unfettered access for humanitarian aid, the resumption of basic services, respect for constitutional boundary arrangements and the withdrawal of foreign forces, Tsadkan said.

The Tigray authorities “will accept whatever comes out” of an impartial, agreed-upon peace process, he said. He didn’t immediately respond to questions Wednesday.

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