Addis Abeba – Maj. Gen. Stephen Radina from Kenya will be leading the long-awaited African Union Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism (AU-MVCM) that was officially launched in Mekelle, the capital city of Tigray regional state on Thursday 29 December.
The US State department hailed the decision as “another important step toward securing lasting peace for the people of northern Ethiopia” and pledged to stand ready to support its implementation.
“The United States stands ready to support the AU-MVCM and full implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement (COHA), which includes disarmament of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) combatants, withdrawal of Eritrean forces, unimpeded humanitarian access, resumption of essential services, and implementation of transitional justice,” the state department said.
“The joint mission to be led by Maj. Gen. Stephen Radina from Kenya was formed as part of the signed implementation deal between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) finalized in Nairobi on 22nd December 2022,” said the office of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who facilitated the launching together with Olusegun Obasanjo, AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, AU High-Level Panel Members, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa and Member of the AU Panel of the Wise, and Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of IGAD.
Maj Gen. Stephen said that the mission under his leadership is going to monitor, verify, and observe compliance inconsistency with the signed peace agreement and that he will look forward to continuing to support all bilateral, and multilateral peace process agreements.
“I come ahead yesterday and I had an opportunity to visit and saw a lot of enthusiasm with the population, I also had an opportunity to visit the mechanized garrison at Agulae where I saw a shipment of heavy weapons and the willingness and the handover has continued with a peace process,” Maj. Gen. Stephen spoke after the launching.
Colonel Rufai Umar Mairiga of Nigeria and Colonel Teffo Sekole of South Africa will join Maj. Gen. Stephen to form the three-member mission.
“The three-member mission formed by the African Union is tasked with the responsibility of monitoring, verifying, and enforcing the November peace agreement,” Uhuru’s office said.
Gedion Timothos, Minister of Justice, and one of the representatives of the federal government in the peace agreement signing in Pretoria, also hailed the launching of a monitoring and verification mechanism as important in the implementation of the signed peace agreement. “The conflict that has ravaged the northern part of Ethiopia for the last two years has been very tragic and deadly it has caused a great deal of pain and suffering, the agreement concluded in Pretoria have been a major break,” the minister said.
On Tigray’s side, Getachew Reda, the spokesperson of TPLF and member of the central command, on his part said that authorities in the region “have done every effort on our part to make sure that the heavy weapons that have at our disposal are there for monitoring. A battalion of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces has moved into its position; between our two parties there is nothing that cannot be achieved”. However, he highlighted that more things can get done, and there was “a long way to go.”
“Spoilers in the form of external forms There is a lot of things has to be done with respect protection of civilian but, as long as we put our heads together there is nothing that cannot be achieved,” Getachew said.
Uhuru Kenyatta on his part highlighted that the most important aspect was to see “peace begin to take shape” and to see both parties sit together “and engaging and each side showing a determined commitment to searching for a lasting peace and a lasting solution to the problems that resulted in this conflict that has led to so many lives being lost, properties being damaged and development being stalled.” AS