Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Tuesday that his government had formed a committee to negotiate for peace with Tigrayan regional forces amid Ethiopia’s deadly civil war.
Roughly 5.5 million people have been displaced during Ethiopia’s 19-month-long civil war after fighting first broke out in Ethiopia’s most northern region in November 2020.
The Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have since engaged in a deadly conflict that expanded into the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara last year.
“Regarding the peace, a committee has been established,” Abiy reportedly told Ethiopian parliament members Tuesday according to Al Jazeera. “Negotiation needs a lot of work. A committee has been established and it will study how we will conduct talks.”
Ethiopia called a ceasefire in March 2022, but unrest throughout the country continued.
Abiy has been criticized for not only his failure to staunch the war but for policies he enacted that have contributed to further human rights abuses.
On May 20 he launched a “law enforcement operation” that was allegedly intended to “protect citizens and ensure the survival of the nation.”
But by May 23 security officials in the Amhara region announced that over 4,500 individuals had been arrested in the region alone, including journalists and activists.
Abiy has reportedly granted the newly established committee 10-15 days to establish negotiations with the TPLF to end the fighting.
But the Ethiopian president’s timely demand could prove difficult given the nation’s decades-long history of regional and ethnic conflict.
The TPLF became a leading political party in Ethiopia after it helped to overthrow a military regime in the early 90s, ruling until Abiy became president in 2018.
The Tigrayan political group has accused Abiy of attempting to centralize power over regional leadership.
Abiy, in turn, has accused the TPLF of attempting to regain power.
With more than 4.5 million Ethiopians internally displaced, global officials have been sounding the alarm that Ethiopia could face one of the worst cases of famine on the planet.