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News: AU monitoring team highlights need to accelerate DDR, steady return of IDPs in Tigray; silent on concurrent withdrawal of foreign, non-ENDF forces

AU’s MVCM team is led by Maj. Gen. Stephen Radina of Kenya. Photo: Tigray TV

The Joint Committee recommended extension of the mandate of the AU MVCM until 31 December 2023

Addis Abeba – Members of the African Union (AU) Joint Committee Meeting of the Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism (MVCM) the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) highlighted “the need to accelerate the demobilization and reintegration of the Tigray armed combatants”, and “to enhance the safety and protection of civilians by facilitating the steady return of internally displaced persons and refugees to the affected areas” in line with the the CoHA and the subsequent Declaration of the Senior Commanders.

But the report said nothing on the aspects of the Nairobi Declaration of the Executive Plan which stated the “disarmament of heavy weaponsto be done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from Tigray, which was further explained by Tigray’s top military leader Lieutenant General Tadesse Werede, who said the disarmament of heavy weapons of the Tigrayan combatants was linked to Eritrean and Amhara forces withdrawal from the Tigray Region.

The AU hosted the second MVCM Joint Committee meeting on Thursday. In a statement released after the meeting, the AU said that the Committee “commended the tremendous progress achieved since the deployment of the AU MVCM in the Tigray region, including the disarmament of heavy weapons and the impending handover of medium and light weapons as part of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, the facilitation of unhindered humanitarian access, the restoration of health, banking, public transport, and commercial services and the re-opening of schools in most parts of the region.”

On 19 May MVCM leader Maj. Gen. Stephen Radina said that 85 to 90% the disarmament of Tigrayan combatants was “completed.” Regardless of the disarmament progress, and the provision on the Nairobi Declaration of the Executive Plan on the concurrent withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from Tigray, however, Eritrean forces continued occupying parts of north and north eastern Tigray region while Amhara forces remain in control of western Tigray and several parts of southern Tigray.

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This week, while briefing the MVCM on the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement and the work done so far, President of the Interim Administration of Tigray, Getachew Reda, told the team that Eritrean forces are “obstructing the works of” the MVCM, and called on the international community to intensify the pressure to withdraw the invading forces from Tigray and return the displaced people to their homes. The President further that the government of Tigray is fulfilling its obligations according to the peace agreement.

This week hundreds of thousands of IDPs in the Tigray region staged massive protests in major cities of the region calling on withdrawal of foreign forces and return of IDPs to their homes as well as resumption of suspended aid distribution in the region. AS

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