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African Union invites Ethiopia, Tigray region to peace talks

October 5, 2022

The African Union has invited the leaders of both Ethiopia's federal government and the country's embattled Tigray region to peace talks. Both sides have said they will attend, though it's unclear who they will send.

A woman carrying crops walks next to an abandoned tank belonging to Tigrayan forces
The conflict, which has plunged Tigray into a humanitarian crisis, has ignited once againImage: Eduardo Soteras/AFP

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's national security adviser on Wednesday said the federal government had accepted an African Union (AU) invitation to hold peace talks with Tigrayan rebels. 

After an upsurge in violence, the AU is seeking to broker the highest-level negotiations yet between the Tigray and Ethiopian sides since the conflict began in 2020. 

How likely are the talks to take place?

The Ethiopian government said it "accepted this invitation which is in line with our principled position regarding the peaceful resolution of the conflict."

However, a statement from national security adviser Redwan Hussein said the talks should take place without preconditions. The statement also omitted details about what level of representation it might send.

The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front said in a statement later on Wednesday that it had accepted the AU invitation for peace talks.

This week Washington said the United States special envoy to the region, Mike Hammer, would be making his second visit to Ethiopia in as many months with the aim of halting violence.

War reignites in Ethiopia's Tigray region

What has been happening in Ethiopia?

The invitation comes more than a month after intense fighting resumed, bringing to an end a March truce that promised hope of ending the war.

It also comes amid continuing reports of attacks from the Tigray region. On Wednesday, Tigrayan forces reported an air strike on a school that was sheltering people displaced by the conflict.

Two aid workers speaking to news agency Reuters on condition of anonymity said the attack had taken place and that at least 50 people were killed, providing slightly differing tallies. Tigrayan authorities said 65 were killed and 70 injured. If those figures are accurate it would be the most deadly known air strike of the war to date. 

As of Wednesday evening, Ethiopia's government was yet to address the allegations.

War broke out when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to topple the northern region's ruling TPLF. He accused the party — which dominated Ethiopia's ruling coalition for decades before Abiy took power in 2018 — of attacking federal army bases.

The conflict led to a humanitarian crisis in Tigray with millions of people left desperately short of food.

Tigrayan forces say the fresh violence has also drawn Eritrean troops, allied with the Ethiopian government, back into the conflict. Eritrea, which signed a peace deal with Abiy that helped him win the Nobel Peace Prize, rejects allegations that its soldiers committed some of the worst atrocities in the conflict.

rc, msh/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)