By Staff Reporters

A new era beacons for Africa as peace enters Ethiopia this November. This is momentous as Africa remains the sole continent where political violence rose even with the Ukraine-Russia war rages in Europe.
The ceasefire in the Ethiopian civil war was led by Nigerian former president Olusegun Obasanjo on behalf of the African Union (AU). The Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front TPLF signed an agreement in Pretoria to end the two-year civil war in the country’s north province at the beginning of November. Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, fell into war two years ago when the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the leadership of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, TPLF, failed to settle their differences amicably.

The war has claimed the lives of thousands of people, spawning one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. It has displaced more than two million people giving rise to a wave of atrocities, including sexual violence and starvation. The TPLF had headed the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, EPRDF, a coalition of four political parties which held power for 28 years.

While Ethiopia prospered under this coalition, complaints over ethno-sectional marginalisation and political repression snowballed into protests. The emergence of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation, OPDO’s, leader, Abiy as Prime Minister on April 2, 2018, was a major power shift that increasingly alienated the TPLF. Abiy’s formation of his Prosperity Party from remnants of the EPRDF and other parties and his administrative reforms effectively ousted the TPLF from power.

Besides committing to a permanent cessation of hostilities and restoration of constitutional order in terms of the November agreement, the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF also announced that AU’s 2019 Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) would accompany the deal. This is the first time that the AU-led peace talks have incorporated the AUTJP. The move, according to the Ethiopian academic and political commentator Tadesse Simie Metekia “is considered vital in many peace processes, and its importance for Ethiopia has been highlighted before. The AUTJP is included to ensure accountability, truth, reconciliation and healing in post-conflict Ethiopia,” Metekia wrote on the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) website.

Metekia says including the AUTJP as a key part of the agreement should quell concerns about accountability and justice relating to crimes committed during the war in Ethiopia.
“The AU policy is also important because Ethiopia has unsuccessfully attempted transitional justice three times in the past 50 years (in 1974, 1991 and 2018). None of these efforts was accompanied by a framework for transitional justice,” he said. Metekia said the AUTJP was a good reference for Ethiopia for several reasons including drawing on past experiences, “it acknowledges context specificity as much as it advocates for African shared values and ownership of the process by the affected country. It also clarifies the overarching purposes and guiding principles.”

Shortly after the deal was sealed, Obasanjo visited the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) at its First Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament in Midrand, where he was piled with congratulatory praises.
He called on the PAP to reclaim its power and rightful place as the voice of the African citizens at a time when the continent is dealing with numerous challenges, especially on the peace and security front.
“Your Committee on Cooperation, International Relations, and Conflict Resolution should be active and at the forefront of initiatives involving peace-building across the continent as we try to contain instability in the face of unconstitutional changes in government. There’s a lot to do if we are to achieve peace and this body has a central role to play,” he said.

PAP president Chief Fortune Charumbira reciprocated by saying Obasanjo’s role in Ethiopia and across the continent and his address to the PAP was historic and testaments to the Parliament’s revival.
“As Africans, we celebrate your efforts which have produced very good results in Ethiopia. As the Chief negotiator, you have delivered peace in that country and this is an incredible achievement. With people of your calibre, Africa is in good hands,” said Charumbira.

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