ADDIS ABABA – The Global Society of Tigray Scholars (GSTS) has said that it believes Eritrean government will be the main spoiler of the Ethiopian peace agreement signed between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), saying it is concerned over lack of mechanism for withdrawal of Eritrean forces.
Ethiopia’s federal government and the opposition TPLF earlier this month signed a ceasefire agreement in South Africa that provides for an immediate end to fighting and reopening and delivery of essential services in the Tigray region. It also provides for the disarmament of the Tigray Defense Force (TDF), the military wing of the TPLF and local factions.
But since the signing of the deal, fighting has continued with reports of Eritrean forces attacking villages in violation of the ceasefire agreement. There is evidence of Eritrean troops fighting alongside federal forces in the Tigray region, but the agreement failed to identify Eritrean forces by name and their presence in the Ethiopian territory remains a matter of concerns to many, including peace observers.
In a statement, the GSTS said it is concerned over the failure of the peace agreement to give a clear mechanism for withdrawal of Eritrean forces from the Ethiopian territory, saying it has been ten days since the signing of the deal and the Eritrean forces have continued to wage attacks on innocent civilians in most parts of Tigray region.
“However, GSTS continues to be concerned that the ongoing Peace Talks are yet to reveal a reliable mechanism for the immediate, unconditional, verified, and permanent withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Tigray and other parts of Ethiopia, and the provision of unfettered humanitarian flow and resumption of basic services in Tigray. It has been ten days since the Agreement for lasting peace a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) was signed in Pretoria, but Eritrea has maintained its heavy military presence deep in Tigray and scaled-up its indiscriminate shelling on civilian installations,” it said.
“GSTS is particularly alarmed by ongoing reliable reports of the arrival of additional Eritrean forces engaged in full scale attacks on Tigray, including the shelling of civilian centers and other atrocities targeting the civilian population, massive looting, and destruction of civilian infrastructure since the Pretoria Agreement was signed,” it added.
The academics said in the statement that failure of the agreement to identify Eritrean forces by name is a subject of concern as there is already and well-established presence of Eritrean forces in Tigray with most of them fighting in Ethiopia army uniforms.
“While GSTS welcomes the declaration of senior commanders signed on the 12th of November 2022 that outlines the withdrawal of foreign forces and non-ENDF (Ethiopian National Defense Forces) forces from Tigray the agreement fails to mention the invading Eritrean forces by the name. ‘Foreign forces’ is too vague and undermines the legal evidence of the presence of Eritrean forces in this genocidal war, effectively deserving the victims and denying the heinous atrocities the invading forces committed,” it said.
“As GSTS has previously averred, any peace process in Ethiopia that does not recognize and/or undermine the destructive actions of the regime in Eritrea is doomed to fail because evidence indicates that the Eritrean regime is embedded in Ethiopian military and security institutions to deepen its destabilization tools,” the statement added.
The statement further added that “GSTS believes the Eritrean Government will be the main spoiler of this agreement and declaration. This is supported both by the history of the Afeworki’s regime in the Horn of Africa, as well as its horrific role in the Tigray war.”