Updated briefing on the situation in the Horn of Africa

Ethiopia

Date | 10 February, 2022

Tomorrow (10 February), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1064th session to receive updated briefing on the situation in the Horn of Africa as one of its agenda items. This agenda item is added on the request of the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa.

Following the opening remarks by Kenya’s Permanent Representative and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Jean Kamau, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make statement. The main focus of the session is to receive updated briefing from AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, H.E. President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is undertaking visits to various parts of Ethiopia. The focus of the briefing is accordingly expected to be on the activities of the High Representative for peace process in Ethiopia since the last briefing.

This is the third time that the High Representative briefs the PSC since his appointment in August 2021. It is to be recalled that the last time the Council convened a dedicated session on the situation was during its 1045th meeting that was held on 08 November 2021. It is expected that during tomorrow’s session his briefing will address two issues. The first of these that PSC member states expect him to brief them on is his work plan and strategies for implementing the peace process. Second, the High Representative is expected to provide an overview of peace and security developments on the situation in Ethiopia since his last briefing in November 2021. He is also expected to highlight his diplomatic engagements since he last updated the Council, and may outline next steps.

Since the PSC’s last briefing from the High Representative, there have been significant developments in the conflict in northern Ethiopia. The conflict has taken a heavy toll on civilians and the economy since its eruption in early November 2020. In the course of 2021, the conflict expanded beyond Tigray and spilled over to the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar. Since November, the dynamics of the conflict have changed, with the military balance of power shifting in favour of Ethiopian Government forces. Tigrayan forces, under pressure from drone reliant counter-offensive from Federal Government forces, announced on 21 December their withdrawal from territories they seized in Amhara and Afar regions and retreated to their own region. On 23 December 2021, the government of Ethiopia announced a pause to the fighting stating that it will not move further into Tigray region.

Some other notable developments include the announcement on 7 January 2022 by the government on the release of high-profile political prisoners including senior members of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The Chairperson of the AU Commission issued a statement dated 8 January 2022 expressing that he is ‘pleased to learn of the release of political opposition figures detained in Ethiopia.’ The government also issued a law setting up a national dialogue Commission, which is being viewed by international actors as a welcome development despite uncertainties and contestations about inclusivity and representativeness of the process. It was against this background that the UN also issued a statement. In a statement that the UN Secretary-General issued on 19 January, he stated that Obasanjo ‘briefed him about the efforts being made by the government of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) to move towards a resolution of the violent conflict.’

Though the PSC discussed the situation in Ethiopia during the summit level session in last March under AOB, a formal and substantive engagement happened only at its 1045th emergency session of November 2021. In that session, the Council, among others, urged parties for an immediate cessation of hostilities and pursue political dialogue. The Council also highlighted the imperative of ensuring an impartial, effective, transparent and prompt investigation into alleged violations. It further requested at the session, to receive periodic updates on the situation and tomorrow’s session is also convened within this framework. It is to be recalled that Ethiopia requested the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to conduct a joint investigation into the alleged human right violations in Tigray during the March summit level session. The ACHPR launched investigation independently on its own in June 2021, despite lack of agreement with the government of Ethiopia on the modalities for such investigation.

On the side-lines of the AU Summit held on 5-6 February, Obasanjo held consultations. One such consultation he held was with Djibouti’s President Ismail Guelleh. The discussion led to the expression of support by Guelleh to the mandate of Obasanjo and approval of the assignment of Mohamed Idriss Farah, former Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the AU and a well-known figure in the diplomatic circles in Addis Ababa, to Obasanjo’s mediation team.

Continuing with his effort to achieve ceasefire and progress towards establishing the ground for peace talks, Obasanjo undertook visits to parts of Ethiopia including Kombolcha and the capital of Tigray, Mekelle. He also travelled to the Afar region along with President Sahelework Zewde. Since his appointment in August, Obasanjo has been engaged in shuttle diplomacy between Addis Ababa and Mekelle, and further interacting with key actors such as Kenya and US. In tomorrow’s session, Obasanjo is expected to brief the Council about his recent diplomatic engagements to end the conflict and update the Council where the process currently stands. Among others, he is expected to highlight on-going efforts to address the humanitarian situation in various parts of the country and potential for progress for the release of prisoners of war which may serve as catalyst for progress in other fronts.

On the battle front, despite the suspension of ground offensive, there have been reports that drone attacks targeting places in Tigray have continued. Similarly, most recently reports have emerged that fighting has erupted and continues in Afar involving Tigrayan forces. These have resulted in the needless loss of innocent lives and the displacement of others. On the other hand, essential services such as banking and electricity remain disconnected.

Two issues may be of interest to the Council in tomorrow’s discussion. The first is how to secure an immediate cessation of hostilities and unhindered humanitarian access, which would further pave the way for a broader political settlement to the conflict. Second, some positive developments notably the delivery through air of much needed aid by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) highlights the importance of addressing the dire humanitarian situation in the region and other parts, including by resolving the conditions limiting the delivery of emergency food aid and medical assistance. According to a 20 January OCHA situation report, an estimated 9.4 million people need food assistance in northern Ethiopia, and 3.9 million people in Tigray are in need of health services. In this respect, it remains critical for the AU to intensify its engagement through the High Representative, particularly in terms of encouraging the expansion of the current efforts and openings in the delivery of humanitarian assistance towards full humanitarian access to those most in need of such assistance.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The Council may particularly reiterate its call for immediate cessation of hostilities and unhindered access to humanitarian access as a first step towards a broader political settlement to the conflict. The Council may however welcome the recent developments that contribute to reducing tension including the release of prisoners and the decision not to enter into Tigray as well as the retreat of Tigrian forces to Tigray. Commending the efforts of the High Representative to the Horn of Africa, the Council may urge the Representative to seize the moment and step-up diplomatic engagement with parties to the conflict as well as regional leaders and actors for sustaining some of the initial positive measures taken. The PSC may also welcome the delivery of aid by the ICRC and encourage the easing of the conditions that have impended humanitarian access for reaching those in desperate need of humanitarian assistance before it is too late. It may also call on the international community to extend full support to the efforts of Obasanjo and to encourage all sides to enhance measures that facilitate the smooth delivery of humanitarian aid, the end of the resumption of essential services, the achievement of ceasefire and the process towards peace talks.


Update on the situation in Northern Ethiopia

Ethiopia

Date | 08 November, 2021

Tomorrow (8 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene an emergency session. The session, prompted by recent changes in the context of the conflict, is set under a theme ‘update on the situation in Northern Ethiopia’.

The session will receive the statement of the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, after the opening remark by the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November, Mohamed Gad, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the AU. Initially, it was envisaged that former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, who was appointed as the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa in August 2021, would provide the update on the situation in Northern Ethiopia. However, the session may proceed without his briefing due to him traveling to Northern Ethiopia. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as the concerned regional body and Ethiopia, as the country concerned, are also expected to deliver a statement.

It is to be recalled that in March 2021 during the Heads of State Meeting of the PSC, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister presented a ‘Statement to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on the current situation in Northern Ethiopia. The statement was delivered under AOB and as such there was no formal deliberation on the situation. Tomorrow’s session will thus be the first session for the PSC to deliberate on the situation formally.

The session comes against the background of reports of increasing fighting and in a context of reports of declaration by Tigrian forces of taking control of the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha. On 3 November, the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, issued a statement calling for ‘the immediate cessation of hostilities, the full respect for the life and property of civilians, as well as state infrastructure.’ The statement additionally called on ‘the parties to urge their supporters against acts of reprisal against any community, and refrain from hate speech and incitement to violence and divisiveness.’ After reminding ‘their obligations regarding compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, with particular regard to the protection of civilians and ensuring access to humanitarian assistance by communities in need,’ the statement called on ‘the parties to engage with the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President H.E Olusegun Obasanjo.’

In the briefing, it is expected that PSC will be informed about Obasanjo’s engagements on the situation thus far. It is to be recalled that, he briefed the PSC on 28 October broadly on his mandate and plans on execution of the mandate. For purposes of tomorrow’s session, it would be of interest for the PSC to learn about his engagements regarding the situation in Northern Ethiopia, including meetings held with the key stakeholders both in Ethiopia and in the region.

PSC members would in particular be interested to hear about AU’s assessment of the situation and how the PSC lends further support towards AU’s effort to help avert further deterioration of the situation. Recent developments have attracted increased attention both in the region and outside of the region as well. In a statement issued on 4 November, IGAD Executive Secretary, Workneh Gebeyehu, among others, called for the cessation of hostilities and for immediate ceasefire. Kenya also issued a statement appealing ‘to the parties on the urgent need to bring an end of the conflict’. On Friday 5 November, the UN Security Council held a meeting on the situation and issued a statement. Expressing deep concern about the intensification and expansion of military clashes and the impact of the conflict on the humanitarian situation, stability of the country and the region, the statement of the UNSC called for respect for international humanitarian law, for safe and unhindered humanitarian access, the reestablishment of public services, and scaling up of humanitarian assistance. The statement additionally called to put an end to hostilities and to negotiate a lasting ceasefire, and for the creation of conditions for national dialogue.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to express concern about the escalation and expansion of the fighting and the human toll of the situation as well as its impact on the stability of the country and the region. Considering the geo-strategic location of the country and the implications of further deteriorations, the PSC may underscore the importance of peace in Ethiopia for the entire region and the continent. The PSC, taking note of efforts and expressions of commitment to address the situation, reiterate the AU Commission Chairpersons call for the cessation of hostilities and the need for starting a political process for ending the escalating fighting. To this end, the PSC may express its support for the role of the AU High-Representative for the Horn of Africa and urge full cooperation for enabling him to help achieve a negotiated settlement.


PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL 12TH MEETING

Ethiopia

Date | 4 July, 2004

COMMUNIQUÉ

COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE TWELFTH MEETING OF THE PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), meeting in its twelfth meeting, at ministerial level, on 4 July 2004, adopted the following communiqué:

A. ON THE CRISIS IN THE DARFUR REGION OF THE SUDAN:

Council,

1. Reiterates its serious concern over the prevailing situation in Darfur Region of the Sudan, particularly the humanitarian crisis and the continued reports of violations of human rights committed by the Janjaweed, and r in Darfur;

Commends the Chairperson’s timely visit to Darfur, as part of the efforts to address the prevailing humanitarian situation and to speed up the search for a lasting solution to the crisis;

2. Notes that, even though the crisis in Darfur is grave, with the attendant loss of lives, human suffering and destructions of homes and infrastructure, the situation cannot be defined as a genocide. Council further notes that the crisis should be addressed with urgency to avoid further escalation;

3. Welcomesmeasures taken(GoS) to agenciesunrestricted welcomes the commitment made the GoS to neutralize and urgesGoSall

4. the , to fulfil the commitments made in the and to refrain from any further actions that could constitute violations of the letter and spirit of all the Agreements signed so far

5. Further urges the Sudanese authorities to assess the extent of the destruction related to the conflict in Darfur and to consider the ways and means of compensating the affected populations;

6. Stresses that the African Union should continue to lead the efforts to address the crisis in Darfur and that the International Community should continue to support these efforts;

Commends President Deby of Chad for his mediation efforts, undertaken with the support of the AU Commission and other partners. Council calls on all concerned to vigorously pursue their efforts;

Welcomes the decision of the Chairperson of the Commission to appoint, as his Special Envoy for Darfur, Mr. Hamid El Gabid, and encourages him to pursue his efforts aimed at ending the conflict in Darfur;

7. Welcomes the establishment of the Ceasefire Commission (CFC) in El Fashir, as of 9 June 2004, and the partialdeployment of the AU Military Observers in the Darfur Region, and Commission to expedite the process, including the deployment of the Protection Elements within the framework of the Agreement of 28 May 2004 on the Establishment of the CFC and Deployment of Observers. Council further urges the extend full ion to and the Observer Mission ;

8. Further welcomes the convening of the first provided for in the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement, , and urgesthe Sudanese parties to participate fully in the meeting scheduled , to discuss political issues with the view of reaching;

9. Expresses serious concern over the impact of the conflict in Darfur on the stability of Chad and the rest of the region and, in this regard, encourages the Governments of the Sudan and Chad to take appropriate steps to enhance security along their common border. Council expresses the disposition of the AU to support such efforts.much-awaited conference that is meant to focus on the political, economic and social aspects of the conflict in order to reach a global and lasting peace in the Sudan

B. ON THE SITUATION IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)

Council,

1. Expresses concern at the continued difficulties preventing the normal functioning of the transitional institutions and delaying the implementation of the Comprehensive and All Inclusive Agreement, as well as the deterioration of relations between the DRC and Rwanda following the events that took place in Bukavu and Kamanyola, in Southern Kivu, in May/June 2004;

2. Invites the Chairperson of the Commission, in close consultation with the United Nations, to take the necessary measures to facilitate the establishment of the Joint DRC/Rwanda Verification Mechanism, in keeping with the spirit of the 27 November 2003 Declaration and on the basis of the commitments made in Abuja on 25 June 2004;

3. Further invites the Chairperson of the Commission to initiate, on the margins of the session of the Assembly of the Union to be held in Addis Ababa from 6 to 8 July 2004, consultations with the UN Secretary-General, to consider the ways and means of finding a lasting solution to the problem of the negative forces (ex-FAR and Interahamwe);

4. Encourages the initiative to convene, on the margins of the session of the Assembly of the Union, to be held in Addis Ababa, from 6 to 8 July 2004, a meeting between Presidents Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagamé, in the presence of other Heads of States and Government, including the Chairperson of the Union and the Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council for the month of July 2004, the UN Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, to sustain the momentum generated by the meeting held in Abuja on 25 May 2004, and to consider the best possible ways of normalizing the relations between the two countries;

5. Encourages the Chairperson of the Commission to take all measures deemed to be appropriate, including the strengthening of the AU Liaison Office in the DRC, to contribute to building confidence among the Congolese Parties to the ongoing process, on the one hand, and to strengthening the relations between DRC and Rwanda, on the other, as part of the overall efforts to promote the objectives of the Comprehensive and All Inclusive Agreement.

C. ON THE SITUATION IN BURUNDI

Council,

1. Welcomes the encouraging development in the peace process in Burundi. In this respect, Council encourages the Transition Government of Burundi and the Burundian parties to spare no efforts for the successful conclusion of the transition period provided for in the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of 28 August 2000;

2. Endorses the decisions of the 21st Summit of the Regional Initiative, held in Dar-es-Salaam, on 5 June 2004;

3. Supports the decision of the 21st Summit to extend the deadline for the PALIPEHUTU/FNL of Agathon Rwasa to join the peace process by three months, and to impose with immediate effect, restrictions on the movements of the leaders and members of the PALIPEHUTU/FNL and requests Member States to implement this decision;

4. Requests the Commission, pursuant to the communiqué of 21st Summit of the Regional Initiative, to examine the activities of the PALIPEHUTU/FNL in the light of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, as well as other relevant decisions and instruments, and to submit to it recommendations on the measures that could be taken, for appropriate action.

D. ON THE SITUATION IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE

Council,

1. Welcomes the mediation efforts being deployed by the leaders of ECOWAS and the initiative of the President of the Gabonese Republic, to re-launch the peace and reconciliation process. Council urges the Ivorian parties to extend full cooperation to these efforts and to demonstrate the required political will to facilitate the full and unconditional implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement;

2. Further welcomes the resumption of dialogue between the President of the Republic and the political opposition, and urges the Forces Nouvelles to rejoin the negotiation process. Council reaffirms that only frank discussions among all Parties to the Ivorian crisis will create conditions conducive to the resumption of the effective functioning of the Government and the re-launching of the peace process;

3. Requests the Commission to continue to support the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire, including through facilitating exchanges of experiences with countries that had been faced with similar problems.

E. ON THE RELATIONS BETWEEN ERITREA AND SUDAN

Council,

1. Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to prepare and submit to it, in due course, a report on this matter based on earlier AU’s efforts and the Council’s decision of 25 May 2004;

2. Decides to remain seized with the matter.

F. ON THE PEACE PROCESS BETWEEN ERITREA AND ETHIOPIA Council,

1. Encourages the ongoing efforts by African leaders and the United Nations to overcome the difficulties being encountered in the peace process and to facilitate the normalization of the relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia;

2. Decides to remain seized with the matter.