Addis Abeba – Leader of Tigray Regional State, Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), said on Sunday that although his side has been implementing the Pretoria and Nairobi peace pact since it was signed, the Ethiopian government has been lagging behind in accomplishing it accordingly. Debretsion said this during a meeting with members of the Tigray regional state Council, according to regional media.
His comments came a day after the federal government issued a statement saying it would take “necessary measures” to protect civilians threatened by “organized crimes”, such as “robbery” in areas its forces are not in control of, including the capital Mekelle.
“Evidence is coming out that organized crimes are being committed in areas that the National Defense Forces have not yet reached. These criminals have exploited the transitional situation for their transgression especially in Mekelle, there are persistent reports that organized robbery is being committed with the accompaniment of armed patrols”, the federal government said, adding that “the Government of Ethiopia wants to underline that these criminals will be held accountable.” The federal government will take “all necessary measures to safeguard the security of the people in those areas and discharge its responsibilities.”
Tigray regional state did not issue official response to the claim made by the federal government. However, Getachew Reda, spokesperson of the TPLF and member of the Tigray central command, tweeted, “whatever security threat we cannot address, what our people cannot address, no one else can, no one else will.”
During Sunday’s meeting with regional Council members, Debretsion, who is also the chairman of the regional ruling party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), told the members in attendance that the Tigrayan combatants were disengaged from four front lines as part of efforts to implement the permanent cessation of hostilities agreement but said Ethiopian forces have not yet disengaged from front lines.
It is recalled that under “Disarmament of Tigray armed combatants,” on the Declaration on the Modalities for the Implementation of the Pretoria agreement, which was signed in Nairobi on November 12, article 2.1/D,stated that “disarmament of heavy weapons will be done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region.”
Furthermore, sub-clause 2.1 (a) dictated that orientation by the commanders for their respective forces will take place over a period of seven (7) days starting on the date of the commanders’ arrival to the regular position on 15 November 2022. Whereas, (b) states that, disengagement will take place over a period of four (4) days in four disengagement zones and that upon disengagement, the federal authorities shall assume federal responsibilities in accordance with the Constitution for all areas including the resumption of services.
On 05 December, Tigray’s topmost military commander General Tadesse Worede said that nearly 65% of Tigray armed combatants were disengaged from the front lines, but there has not been independent report from the AU’s verification mechanism, whose establishment is provided under article 11 of the Pretoria Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA).
“On our part, we have set four technical committees in Tigray and three in the Diaspora following the signing of the peace agreement, and began implementing it, but the federal government has not yet accomplished some of its responsibilities like disengagement of its army from front lines, the withdrawal of the Eritrean and the Amhara forces out of Tigray” Debretsion said, and decried that there was no proper flow of humanitarian aid, including medicines and restoration of basic services, as they have been limited to certain areas. He confirmed that 76,000 metric tons of food aid has arrived in the region.
“According to the agreement, there should be unrestricted flow of humanitarian aid to Tigray but still there are obstructions despite the improvements. People residing in areas occupied by the Eritrean and the Amhara forces are not getting aid properly, even in areas where the federal government has been distributing aid, only people in the cities get the aid, yet many people in the countryside do not get any help.”
He also said that although the federal government has full responsibility for securing and keeping Tigrayans safe according to the signed peace agreement, both Eritrean and Amhara forces kept on committing crimes against the people of Tigray in the areas they occupied, Debretsion added.
The federal government has not commented on Debretsion’s statement, as of yet. AS