Let peace deal lead to lasting peace in Ethiopia

Members of the Tigrayan community protest against the conflict between Ethiopia and Tigray rebels in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, outside the United Arab Emirates embassy in Pretoria, South Africa on Oct. 12, 2022. [AP Photo]

When top leaders clash, the ordinary man bears the brunt of hostilities. And so it is with the Ethiopian conflict, where Tigray rebels have waged a two-year war against the government. With the guns now silent, more than 600,000 people have died painfully from the bullets and a devastating famine.

The politicians bought guns and unleashed them on innocent civilians to fight each for selfish causes that had little to do with the small man, woman or child going about their lives. The blood of the victims will always be in the hands of the leaders. It is a tough lesson for all African leaders and policymakers.

It took former President Uhuru Kenyatta, former Nigerian president Olusegon Obasanjo and former South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuke to broker a truce and hopefully entrench peace in Ethiopia. It is unfortunate that the Ethiopian leaders could not engage each other directly and iron out their differences.

That it could only take the international community to put the warring sides on the negotiating table sears the heart. Why should it take foreigners to help resolve internal grievances? Why should our leaders be so quick to the gun to raise their disagreements? Why can’t they give dialogue first priority and avert unnecessary deaths and suffering?

Today, a humanitarian crisis has taken a huge toll on the Tigrayan region with hundred thousands of people needing urgent food aid and treatment. This is in a country which has one of the largest populations in Africa with the potential to do trade and grow economically. But political squabbles have held back the Ethiopian promise for decades now.

We hope the cessation of hostilities will herald a new beginning for Ethiopian leaders and citizens.

With the destruction in the past two year, the international community must quickly help to restore of peace and economic activities in Tigray. This is the time to assure investors of peace and convince them to put their resources in the region. Meanwhile, all African political leaders must commit to keep peace and always give dialogue a chance.