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23 Aug, 2023 15:31

Ethiopia vows to fix disputes that cost 100,000 lives

Efforts are continuing to ensure all issues in Tigray are resolved in line with peace deal signed last November, official says
Ethiopia vows to fix disputes that cost 100,000 lives

Ethiopia’s defense minister Abraham Belay has announced plans for a referendum on a guarantee that the territorial disputes of Tigray and Amhara regions are to be settled based on constitutional law and in accordance with a peace deal signed last November.

The minister referred to the Pretoria Agreement and to the grievances of residents and over 2.5 million persons displaced by the two-year civil war in Tigray, Belay said on Tuesday, in a statement published on Facebook.

We are seriously working to resolve the issues that have been neglected and are causing serious harm to our people. The residents of these areas will also be ensured a stable basis for electing and governing their own governors,” he stated.

Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region experienced an intense war in 2020, which ended last November after the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed the Pretoria Agreement, an African Union-mediated peace deal signed in the South African capital.

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) has classified the Tigray War as the world’s deadliest conflict in 2022, with estimated deaths at well over 100,000.

More than 2.6 million people have been internally displaced as a result of the conflict, which has fueled famine-like conditions in the region, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

The East African country’s defense minister said on Tuesday that: “Work is being done to ensure the safety and peace of the displaced people.”

The people will soon return to their homes and establish their own administration in a manner that ensures their constitutional rights,” he added.

The Western Tigray Zone is the region’s disputed territory, where Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both accused Amhara regional security forces and local authorities of engaging in acts of ethnic cleansing against Tigrayans.

In 2021, Amhara militiamen who fought alongside the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) against Tigrayan forces during the war reportedly captured lands and drove out tens of thousands of Tigrayans.

Belay said the government will dissolve regimes “in those areas where an illegal administration was created,” adding that “the ENDF will ensure there are not any other armed forces except the federal security forces.

Earlier this month, heavy fighting erupted between the ENDF and the local Amhara’s Fano militia over the government’s decision to integrate regional forces into the federal police or military.

Authorities declared a six-month state of emergency last week in response to the violence in Bahir Dar, Gondar, the historic town of Lalibela, and other cities, which has resulted in scores of civilian casualties.