Uhuru to skip Ethiopia-Tigray peace talks, says rules of engagement not clear

 

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta when he arrived in Tanzania for the EAC Heads of State summit. [PSCU, Standard]

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta will not be attending the Ethiopia-Tigray peace talks set to take place in South Africa starting Sunday.

Although inner sources say the former head of state was caught unaware by the invite, in his letter to AU Chairperson Mousa Faki he said he would miss the talks to due conflicts in his schedule.

“I wish to convey my warmest regards to you and the African Union (AU) team that is working hard to organize the AU-Convened Peace Talks on Ethiopia. It is my hope that both the Ethiopian Government and the Tigrayan Regional Leadership will take part in this Pan-African effort to end the conflict in their country,” read part of the letter.

It further read, “My attention has been drawn to a communique Ref: CCP/Y695.10.22 dated October 1, 2022 regarding the Ethiopian Peace Process scheduled for October 8, 2022 in South Africa. Regrettably, I wish to notify your good office that I will not be able to attend the AU-Convened Peace Talks scheduled for October 8, 2022 in South Africa owing to conflicts in my schedule.”

Uhuru said in the interim, the AU should clearly communicate on the structure and modalities of the talks, including but not limited to the rules of engagement for all the interlocutors invited.

This clarification, Uhuru said would greatly help in preparations for his engagement and participation.

Earlier in the week, Faki had invited for the peace talks that he said are in line with building on continuous consultations with the two sides that have been at war.

“Within the context of the ongoing African Union-led peace process for Ethiopia, I have the honour to invite you to the Peace Talks, scheduled to take place in South Africa Sunday, October 9, 2022,” read part of the letter.

Faki said the talks between the two parties, is expected to deliberate on the guiding principles, agenda issues, modalities, format and timelines for the negotiated settlement aimed at laying the foundation for a structured and sustained mediation between t Federal Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF, towards durable resolution of the conflict.

The Peace talks will be facilitated and led by former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo with the support of a panel of distinguished and eminent Africans.

He said Uhuru and former UN Women Executive Director Dr Phumzile Mambo-Ngcuka will serve as panelists for the peace talks process.

But Uhuru said as they discuss the agenda for the talks, it is his hope that among the most urgent issues high on that agenda will be the immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities.

“This silencing of the guns is particularly important in order to avail the right conditions for the consultations and negotiations while alleviating human suffering and allowing for continued access to humanitarian assistance,” he said.

AU's mediation credibility on the Ethiopia crisis has been taking a beating over the continental body's decision to organise peace talks in South Africa without consulting all parties.

Tigray, though had agreed to participate raised concerns on logistics and security for their team.