US supports Obasanjo's mission in Ethiopia, asks rivals to halt military operations
ADDIS ABABA - The United States has strongly backed former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo's mission to seek a truce in Ethiopia, following a year-long conflict that has left thousands of people dead and others displaced.
The Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] has been at loggerheads with Tigray Defense Forces [TDF], in a crisis that has badly exposed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who had started initiating democratic reforms in Ethiopia.
According to the State Department, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken placed a phone call to Olusegun Obasanjo, where he expressed strong support from the United States in the ongoing conflict within the Horn of Africa nation.
"Blinken spoke with AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo today. Secretary Blinken expressed the strong support of the United States for President Obasanjo’s efforts to mediate among the parties to the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia," read the statement.
Blinked, the State Department noted, discussed the need for ENDF and TDF to halt military operations within Ethiopia and give room for talks without preconditions. Obasanjo is the African Union's special envoy to the Horn of Africa.
The Secretary offered to continue assisting Obasanjo to reach out to the two sides, adding that there is a need for the parties to allow humanitarian agencies access the affected people in the country without unnecessary conditions.
"The Secretary and President Obasanjo discussed the urgent need for a halt to all military operations, negotiations on a cessation of hostilities without preconditions, and unhindered humanitarian access," the statement added.
"The Secretary expressed his concern that the bellicose rhetoric on all sides of the conflict risks fueling intercommunal violence. The Secretary offered his appreciation for President Obasanjo’s continued work to find a sustainable peace for all Ethiopians."
Early this week, Obasanjo traveled to Mekelle, the regional administrative capital of Tigray, where he held talks with TDF leader Debretsion. Spokesperson Getachew Reda termed the talks " fruitful".