Abiy Ahmed is holding the first face-to-face talks with Tigrayan leaders since a peace deal was agreed in November.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held his first face-to-face talks with Tigrayan leaders on Friday since a peace deal was signed to end two years of war, officials and state media said.
On Friday, Abiy met with senior leaders of the forces of the Tigray region about three months since the government in Addis Ababa and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed agreements on a permanent cessation of hostilities.
The conflict, which has occasionally spread from Tigray to the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, has killed thousands, displaced millions from their homes and left hundreds of thousands on the brink of starvation.
Abiy’s national security adviser Redwan Hussein said on Twitter that the prime minister and other officials “met and discussed with the TPLF delegation today on the progress of the peace process.” The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation confirmed the report.
“As a result, Prime Minister Abiy took decisions to increase the number of flights, banking and other issues that would strengthen confidence and make the lives of civilians easier,” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Abiy, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke and other officials met today and discussed the progress of the peace process with the TPLF delegation. As a result, Prime Minister Abiy made decisions to increase flights, banking and other issues that would strengthen confidence and ease the lives of civilians pic.twitter.com/pXqLre9W7t
— Redwan Hussien (@RedwanHussien) February 3, 2023
Under the terms of the peace agreement, the TPLF agreed to disarm and re-establish the authority of the federal government in exchange for re-establishing access to Tigray, which was largely cut off from the outside world during the war.
State media reported that it was the first time Abiy held consultations with the so-called Coordination Committee for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement established after the signing of the revolutionary agreement on November 2 in the South African capital of Pretoria.
The two sides assessed “actions taken so far to implement the Pretoria and Nairobi peace accords,” the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said, referring to a subsequent agreement reached in the Kenyan capital on November 12.
They also discussed issues that “need further attention,” it said, adding that the meeting was held at a resort in southern Ethiopia.
Since the agreement was signed, there has been a re-delivery of aid to Tigray, which has long faced severe shortages of food, fuel, money and medicine.
Basic services such as communications, banking and electricity have slowly returned to the affected region of six million people, with national carrier Ethiopian Airlines resuming commercial flights between Addis Ababa and the Tigray capital Mekelle last month.
The TPLF announced it had begun disarming, while the United States late last month said a “withdrawal is underway” of soldiers from neighboring Eritrea who had been fighting alongside government forces.
But local residents and aid workers said the Eritrean army and forces from the neighboring Amhara region remain in parts of Tigray and accuse them of killings, rapes and looting.
The US has imposed sanctions targeting the Eritrean military as well as President Isaias Afwerki’s political party for its role in the conflict.
Eritrean forces have been accused of some of the worst abuses during the conflict, including gang rape.
Asmara was not a party to the November accords, which called for the withdrawal of foreign and non-Ethiopian federal government forces, but made no specific mention of Eritrea, whose government considered the TPLF an enemy.