Tigrayan forces’ top military leader Lieutenant General Tadesse Werede said the disarmament of heavy weapons of the Tigrayan combatants is linked to Eritrean and Amhara forces withdrawal from the Tigray Region.
In an interview aired on the local Tigray TV on Tuesday, the general said implementation of the agreement has commenced on the Tigrayan side following the discussion held in Nairobi between himself and the chief commander of Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF).
He said his fighters have been debriefed on disarmament protocols and that their disengagement will follow within the next two to three days.
On the activities “directly related to our works, we are finalizing with the army…finalizing the orientation on the consensus about the peace from the army commanders all the way to lower [level]. We will probably finalize it completely in two days all the way to the bottom,” Lieutenant General Tadesse said.
He further stated the next steps and said that it will be followed by the Tigary army’s disengagement from the battle fronts to the place where the army will be deployed. “As long as our logistics capacity or transporting capacity allows, we can also pick it up at once. Transporting “may take a few days” he said.
Any Tigrayan force in the region moves from within “a command system”, Lt. Gen. Tadesse said, adding that Tigray region doesn’t “have any force outside” of the established command system. “There is no armed force other than this; the Ethiopian forces in Tigray say the same thing, so I don’t think there will be anything out of control.”
However, he mentioned that there are some things that are not clear in both documents that should be solved with accelerated political engagement. There is an administration in the region, he said, including “small local administrations” that are functioning in each zone, each district, and each kebele, with “an orderly people with its own administrative structure, from the east or the south. My hope is for these [administrative unites] to continue and not to be dismantled.”
It is the army that will disengage, Lt. Gen. Tadesse said and adding that the civil administration will disengage. There is something to be done about the existing security and police as an organizations; that is “something that needs to be resolved in the next political dialogue.”
The Declaration on the Modalities for the Implementation of the Pretoria agreement signed in Nairobi on November 12, 2022, under sub-clause 2.1 (a) dictates that orientation by the commanders for their respective forces will take place over a period of seven (7) days starting on the date of the commanders’ arrival to the regular position on 15 November 2022. Whereas, (b) states that, disengagement will take place over a period of four (4) days in four disengagement zones.
The declaration further stipulates that, upon disengagement, the federal authorities shall assume federal responsibilities in accordance with the Constitution for all areas including the resumption of services, and outlines that disarmament of heavy weapons will be done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region.
General Tadesse also said withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces from Tigray which according to him is the duty of ENDF, is necessary for the disarmament of heavy weapons of Tigrayan combatants to happen.
He accused Eritrean forces of looting spiritual properties and committing atrocities on the people of Tigray, and urged the federal government to act on the withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces saying that both “groups are not interested in peace, they want to continue the war”.
This comes as the US pushes for the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on 02 November between Ethiopian government and Tigrayan authorities in Pretoria, South Africa.
According to a statement released by the states department, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed On Tuesday, “underscored the importance of immediately implementing the cessation of hostilities agreement, including withdrawal of all foreign forces and concurrent disarmament of the Tigrayan forces”.
The Statement further said Secretary Blinken “recognized ongoing efforts by the Ethiopian government to work towards unhindered humanitarian assistance and restoration of basic services in the Tigray Region as well as in the neighboring Afar and Amhara Regions” the statement added.
The US has previously said the peace agreement must be fully implemented for the US to consider restoring partnerships with Ethiopia, and that it is committed to additional sanctions on Eritrea if they [Eritrean leaders] fail to pull out their troops from Ethiopia.