Handing over heavy weapons is a central part of the November ceasefire agreement
TPLF rebel forces in northern Ethiopia have started handing over heavy weaponry to the national army as part of an African Union-led peace process.
The African Union (AU) said it was “a step in the right direction” to end the two-year-long conflict that killed hundreds of thousands.
The handover in the town of Agulae, around 30 km (18 miles) northeast of the regional capital Mekelle, was overseen by a monitoring team comprising members of the two sides and a regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said he hoped that the handover of weapons would “go a long way in expediting the full implementation of the agreement”.
Armored tanks, rockets, and mortars were among the weapons transferred to the federal army on Tuesday, the Ethiopian military’s Lt-Col Aleme Tadele was quoted by local media as saying.
A team of AU monitors confirmed that weapons had been given up, suggesting that the peace deal is sticking
A deal on the implementation of the agreement signed on 12 November said the disarmament of heavy Tigrayan weapons would take place at the same time as the withdrawal of foreign and non-federal forces.
Neighboring Eritrea has supported the Ethiopian army in the region but did not participate in the Pretoria talks.
Eritrean soldiers have started to withdraw from several major towns in Tigray, however, they have not left Tigrayan territory entirely. It is speculated that they will not leave until the TPLF is fully disarmed.
The conflict broke out following a massive fallout between the regional and federal governments.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian President who brokered the agreement, however, argued that despite the history, background, and underlying causes of the war, the final straw was the “preemptive” attack by the TPLF on the northern command of the Ethiopian Army located in Tigray.
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