ADDIS ABABA, June 14 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday the federal government had formed a committee to negotiate with forces from the rebellious northern region of Tigray, in the first public confirmation of akey step towards peace negotations.
The nearly two-year conflict in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, has displaced more than 9 million people, plunged parts of Tigray into famine conditions and killed thousands of civilians.
“Regarding the peace … a committee has been established and it will study how we will conduct talks,” Abiy told parliament, the first time he has publicly referred to the body.
The committee, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, has 10 to 15 days to hammer out details of negotiations.
Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), was unavailable for comment.
The TPLF – a former rebel army turned political party – dominated national politics for nearly three decades until Abiy’s appointment in 2018 reduced their rule to Tigray.
The TPLF accused Abiy of wanting to centralise power at the expense of the regions, while he said they were seeking to regain national power.
Fighting erupted in Tigray in November 2020 and spilled over into the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara last year.