Joy As Rebels Begin Handing Over Heavy Weapons

Tigrayan rebels said Wednesday they have begun handing in their heavy weapons, a key part of a deal signed more than two months ago to end a deadly conflict in northern Ethiopia.

The terms of the November 2 peace agreement include disarming rebel forces, restoring federal authority in Tigray and reopening access and communications to the region, which has been cut off from the outside world since mid-2021.

Fighting broke out in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed the army in a bid to topple Tigrayan leaders who had been challenging his authority for months and whom he accused of attacking federal military bases.

“Tigray has handed over its heavy weapons as part of its commitment to implementing the #Pretoria agreement,” Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesman Getachew Reda tweeted Wednesday, referring to the November 2 deal signed in the South African capital.

“We hope & expect this will go a long way in expediting the full implementation of the agreement. We hope & expect!”

There has been no reaction yet from Abiy’s government to his statement, and spokespeople did not respond to AFP requests for comment.

A deal on the implementation of the agreement signed in Nairobi on November 12 said the disarmament of heavy Tigrayan weapons would take place at the same time as the withdrawal of foreign and non-federal forces.

Neighbouring Eritrea has backed the Ethiopian army in the conflict but Asmara did not participate in the Pretoria talks.

With access to Tigray restricted, it is impossible to independently verify the situation on the ground.

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