The idea of the Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdallah Hamdok might mediate to end the Tigray war is to be welcomed. [See story below]
But it has to be recalled that mediation has been attempted in the past. Indeed, the African Union tried to get talks going less than three weeks after the conflict began on 4 November 2020.
In November 2020 the chair of the African Union, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, agreed to appoint three former African heads of state as mediators. He did so after discussions with the Ethiopian President, Sahle-Work Zewde.
This statement, carried on 21 November, made clear what was agreed.
The current African Union Chair and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed three African “distinguished Statespersons”: Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia; , former President of the Republic of South Africa – as Special Envoys of the African Union to help to mediate between “the parties to conflict” in Ethiopia, a statement released by the office of the AU Chairperson said.
The statement was released after talks between President Sahle-Work Zewde and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Sahle-Work traveled to South Africa today in “her capacity as Special Envoy of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.”
Sadly, this agreement was all too soon repudiated. Mediation was blocked by Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed almost as soon as it was announced.
This was underlined in an official Tweet.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Kgalema Motlanthe and Joaquim Chissano were allowed to visit Addis Ababa, but were not permitted to travel to Tigray to take up their mission.
One has to ask why PM Hamdock has apparently been given the green light to mediate, when the African Union mediators were not.
Source: Sudan Tribune
Sudan’s Hamdok to mediate Tigray conflict
August 4, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan is preparing to launch a mediation between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), with the support of the international community.
The Sudan Tribune learned that Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok is in contact with the Ethiopian government and the TPLF leaders to bring the two parties to the negotiating table to discuss a peaceful solution and allow humanitarian aid to civilians.
Hamdok, also, informed of his initiative the heads of the East African bloc IGAD, Eritrea and a number of friendly Western countries, including France and the United States of America.
Sudan is increasingly concerned about the nine-month-long escalating conflict in Ethiopia as the war zones in the Tigray and Amhara regions border the country and refugees continue pouring into Sudan.
Officials in Khartoum further say that this conflict might ignite other hotspots in the multiethnic country pointing to the western Benishangul-Gumuz region which is also bordering Sudan as was the case in December 2020.
USAID head Samantha Power, on Tuesday, said they support the Sudanese initiative to resolve the Tigray conflict.
“We want to support Sudan’s transformation from a source of instability to a partner in resolving the challenges of a volatile region, most urgently by working together to address the conflict in Ethiopia, to which there is no military solution,” Power said in a lecture at the University of Khartoum.
On 31 July, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Hamdok and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed where he expressed his concern about the continued fighting in the country and called to allow unfettered humanitarian assistance to the needy.
“The President also stressed that the development of the situation required the negotiation of a break in hostilities and the opening of political dialogue between the belligerents, with respect for the integrity and unity of Ethiopia,” reads a statement released by the French presidency.
For his part, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Wednesday with Hamdok the expansion of fighting in the Amhara and Afar regions of Ethiopia, and the need for a negotiated solution.
“Secretary Blinken and PM Hamdok agreed to encourage all parties to enter negotiations toward a ceasefire, to engage in an inclusive political dialogue to preserve the unity and integrity of the Ethiopian state, and to allow full humanitarian access to those in need,” said the State Department.
With greenlights from USA, France &AU, Sudan mediation between Gov’t of Tigray & Ethiopia has a chance to succeed. It can use a carrot and stick approach. Tigray needs a safe route for humanitarian aids to its ppl. Ethiopia wants border disputes with Sudan resolved. Amharas farmers may want to have usage right in Alfashqa fertile land. Sudan has also a vested interest in the positive outcone of its mediation.It is a complex issue that requires diplomatic & legal skills. TPLF’s considered as Terrorist Party by Ethiopia. Abiy’s govt is considered as an illegitimate By Tigray Elected Government. By involving US, EU, and AU, whether or not it succeeds, Sudan’s mediation efforts may be the last chance to spare Ethiopia from violent disintegration.