Ethiopia’s Tigrayan forces called for an immediate cease-fire Sunday and said they would join an African Union-led peace process after three weeks of renewed fighting ended a fragile truce.
Tigrayan forces from Ethiopia’s northern region have said they are prepared to participate in an “immediate” cessation of hostilities followed by peace talks mediated by the African Union.
In a statement to mark the beginning of the Ethiopian new year, the Tigray region’s leadership called for a “comprehensive negotiated” cease-fire and said they had established a negotiating team that is “ready to be deployed without delay.”
“[T]he Government of Tigray is prepared to participate in a robust peace process under the auspices of the African Union,” the statement said.
The statement came as heavy fighting was reported along Tigray’s northern, eastern and southern borders.
The latest round of hostilities erupted on August 24, bringing an end to a cease-fire agreed by the parties in late March. Each side blamed the other for starting the fighting.
Thousands have been killed and millions displaced since the conflict first broke out in November 2020.
The Tigray forces have previously rejected the African Union as a mediator, claiming its peace envoy, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, is too sympathetic to Ethiopia’s federal government and expressing a preference for talks in Nairobi overseen by Kenya and the U.S.
Their call for a cease-fire was welcomed by the AU, the European Union and the United Nations.
On Thursday, the U.N. said the fighting has halted much needed aid deliveries to Tigray and war-affected parts of the neighboring region of Amhara.
The AU chairperson described the cease-fire call as “a unique opportunity towards the restoration of peace in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,” while EU foreign affairs head Josep Borrell said the EU was “ready to support” talks.
Ethiopia’s federal government has not yet responded to the statement from the Tigray region’s leadership, but it has previously said it is ready to participate in AU-led talks “anytime, anywhere” while also questioning Tigray forces’ commitment to resolving the conflict through dialogue.