Time’s Running Out to End Ethiopia War, African Union Envoy Says

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(Bloomberg) — Both of the waring parties in Ethiopia’s conflict could agree to a political solution, the African Union special envoy for the Horn of Africa said after meeting the two sides, but he warned that the “window of opportunity” is limited. 

Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, met separately with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, over the past few days. 

Time’s Running Out to End Ethiopia War, African Union Envoy Says© Photographer: TONY KARUMBA/AFP Time’s Running Out to End Ethiopia War, African Union Envoy Says

“All these leaders here in Addis Ababa and in the north agree individually that the differences between them are political and require a political solution through dialog,” Obasanjo told the United Nations Security Council in a remote address from Ethiopia.

The yearlong war has killed thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Tensions with the TPLF, the country’s pre-eminent power broker for decades, intensified after Abiy came to power in 2018 and began to sideline the group. The discord exploded into violence last November, when Abiy ordered a military incursion into Tigray after accusing forces loyal to the TPLF of assaulting a military base.

The government offensive failed to defeat the rebel forces, and they are now about 186 miles from the capital.  

The fighting touched off a humanitarian crisis in the northern part of the country and has severely damaged the economy, he said. 

Obasanjo called on the members of the Security Council to strongly urge the federal government and Tigray leaders to engage in negotiations without preconditions, and impose an immediate cease-fire.

Ethiopia’s U.N. representative welcomed Obasanjo’s efforts, but added the process wouldn’t be “straight forward or easy.” 

“For now, we are focused on halting the TPLF and  rescuing and reaching our public that suffered immensely under its cruel and deceptive methods,” said Taye Atske Selassie, Ethiopia’s permanent representative to the U.N.

U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman is also in the region for talks. 

The State Department said Monday evening that Feltman, who’s now in Ethiopia, had met with Abiy, Obasanjo and other officials.  

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