Ethiopian, Tigrayan forces launch hotline amid new peace talks

i24NEWS - Reuters

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A member of a military marching band attends a ceremony to remember those soldiers who died on the first day of the Tigray conflict, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
AP PhotoA member of a military marching band attends a ceremony to remember those soldiers who died on the first day of the Tigray conflict, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The truce raises hopes humanitarian aid can reach a region where hundreds of thousands face famine

The Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces established a telephone hotline to help maintain a ceasefire struck last week, as both sides met in Kenya on Monday for a new round of talks on implementing the truce.

Ethiopia’s government and regional forces from Tigray agreed to cease hostilities after talks mediated by the African Union (AU), a diplomatic breakthrough two years into a war that has killed thousands and displaced millions.

The truce raised hope that humanitarian aid can start moving back into a region where hundreds of thousands face famine.

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Representatives of Ethiopia’s military and government, and forces from Tigray are in Nairobi to discuss how to implement the ceasefire, with the talks set to last three or four days.

“The first sign for me of the progress after the signing of the agreement is the fact that between them they have exchanged a hotline,” AU chief mediator Olusegun Obasanjo told reporters in the Kenyan capital.

According to an official familiar with the talks, the hotline will address any flare-up in fighting and coordinate disengagements, with both sides recognizing “the challenge of fully communicating with all their units to stop fighting.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's national security adviser and lead negotiator, Redwan Hussien, said on Twitter that the Nairobi meetings would ensure "safety & expedites humanitarian flow to areas hitherto inaccessible.”

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But making the ceasefire stick may be challenging given concerns about some skirmishes on the ground, unsettled political and territorial disputes, and an ambitious disarmament timeline.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front – which dominates northern Ethiopia – pledged to disarm its fighters fully within 30 days under the agreement.

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