Tigrayan forces say ready to accept an AU-led peace process in Ethiopia

FILE: Soldiers from TPLF patrol Adi Chilo village in central Tigray, the site of a reported massacre. When Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers lost a battle against the TPLF in February, residents say, the soldiers retaliated by executing most of the men in this village and others nearby. Many victims are buried in shallow graves near their homes.

MEKELLE, Ethiopia - Forces in northern Ethiopia's Tigray region that have been fighting the central government for nearly two years said on Sunday they are ready for a ceasefire and would accept an African Union-led peace process.

"We are ready to abide by an immediate and mutually agreed cessation of hostilities," the Tigrayan forces said in a statement.

Tigray has set up a negotiation team that is ready to be deployed "without delay", the statement said. The Ethiopian federal government said in June that the African Union should facilitate peace talks. read more

Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The government has previously said it is willing to enter talks without preconditions.

Tigrayan forces have been at war with the Ethiopian federal government since November 2020. The Tigrayan forces have accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of centralizing power at the expense of Ethiopia's regions, which Abiy has denied.

Abiy has accused the Tigrayan forces - led by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) which used to dominate national politics - of trying to reclaim power, which they have denied.

"The next step is to finalize a comprehensive negotiated ceasefire and an all-inclusive political dialogue to resolve issues underlying the current conflict," the Tigrayan statement said. It said the negotiation team includes Getachew Reda, the spokesperson for the TPLF, and General Tsadkan Gebretinsae.

The TPLF has previously said it wanted free access to humanitarian aid and services such as banking and telephone links restored before starting talks.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia has displaced millions and killed thousands. Fighting re-erupted there last month following a months-long ceasefire.

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