Obasanjo to give first press briefing today on ongoing AU-led Ethiopia peace talks

Olusegun Obasanjo, the High Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, is scheduled to provide a briefing to the media today in the afternoon in Pretoria, according to the South African government department of international relations and cooperation.

Representatives of the federal government and Tigray regional state are the two parties to the peace talks.

The briefing is the first formal communication since the AU-led peace talks were launched on Tuesday 25 October. It was scheduled to end on Sunday 30 October but has since been extended as parties continued engaging in the talks. The US government said on Monday that the extension of the peace talks was an “indication that the parties arrived in South Africa with quite a bit of distance between them, but it’s also an indication that the parties continue to be willing to sit down together in what we hope to be a constructive atmosphere and ultimately an atmosphere when the parties can discuss their differences and continue to narrow the distance between them.”

The US, whose Horn of Africa Envoy Ambassador Mike Hammer remains in South Africa and “continues to be both as a participant and an observer”, reiterated that the peace talk was aimed at achieving “an immediate cessation of hostilities, to achieve the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all Ethiopians in need, additional measures – securing measures to protect civilians, and seeing Eritrea’s withdrawal from northern Ethiopia.”

The talks are being facilitated by Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, along with former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Deputy President of South Africa Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Representatives of IGAD, UN and the US are participating in the talks as observers.

The peace talks gathered significant momentum following the Chairperson’s call on 15 October for “an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and resumption of humanitarian services” in the Tigray region. Secretary Blinken echoed the Chairperson’s call this week with a statement highlighting the need for “immediate cessation of hostilities” as “a first priority.” He also called on “the delegations to agree on unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need, measures to protect civilians, and Eritrea’s withdrawal from northern Ethiopia.”

By ethionegari@gmail.com

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