BY TESFANEWS *
The African Union has invited both leaders of Ethiopia’s federal government and the country’s embattled Tigray People’s Liberation Front to take part in peace talks scheduled for this weekend in South Africa.
The talk would be facilitated by AU special envoy and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo with the support of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Both sides have said they will attend.
The Ethiopian government said the invitation is “consistent with the government’s prior positions” that talks be mediated by the AU and be held without conditions.
Ethiopia has accepted the AU's invitation to attend peace talks with Tigrayan leaders in South Africa this weekend, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's national security adviser says. https://t.co/OCHSrlcsrV
— Mark Anderson (@markc_anderson) October 5, 2022
The TPLF, however, adds they may have questions about who else might take part, “considering that we were not consulted prior to the issuance of this invitation.”
A diplomat in Addis Ababa 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 talks come more than a month after intense fighting renewed following months of relative calm.
War broke out when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops in response to what the rebels called “a pre-emptive strike” against a federal army and they took control of the headquarters of the military’s Northern Command in Mekelle on November 4, 2020, and raided federal armories.
The fighting then spilled over into neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and a growing humanitarian crisis in those three regions.
* DW and The Associated Press contributed to the story.