It's now time for Ethiopia to give peace a chance

A destroyed tank is seen by the side of the road south of Humera, in an area of western Tigray annexed by the Amhara region during the ongoing conflict, in Ethiopia Saturday, May 1, 2021. [AP Photo]

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta is in South Africa to try and broker peace between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels, his first major assignment since passing the mantle to William Ruto.

Mr Kenyatta and former South African Vice President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka are being led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in the talks organised by the African Union.

Indeed, the time has come for the warring sides to put the interests of Ethiopians, and especially the suffering citizens in the Tigray region, above everything else.

The two years of fighting have yielded only blood, tears, and heightened hatred among Ethiopians. The fighting started in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray after he accused the Tigray People's Liberation Front of attacking federal army camps.

So far, it is estimated that more than half a million people have died as a result of the war. The fighting has also displaced millions of others. Like most other wars, the one in Tigray region is not worth it.

Although some are skeptical that the five-day talks in Pretoria will yield much, the importance of ending this bloodletting cannot be overemphasized.

Therefore, representatives of the warring sides should approach these talks with open minds, knowing that it is not about them but about the millions of men, women, and children who are suffering as a result of this war. Hardened stances on one or both sides will lead to more pain and suffering for the citizens who these leaders claim to care most about.

The Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, is facing huge challenges, among them a devastating drought, and prolonging this conflict will lead to more deaths and suffering due to not only to the fighting, but also famine. The warring sides must therefore put down their weapons and put their heads together so as to provide people with food and rebuild Tigray.

Ethiopia is an important pillar in the region and must lead by example. Its leaders should come to their senses and end this brutal war.