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Addis Calls For Tigray Peace

FILE - An Afari militia member walks next to a house destroyed in the fight between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front forces in Kasagita town, Afar region, Ethiopia. Taken 2.25.2022

The Ethiopian government called Wednesday for a formal Tigray ceasefire agreement to be reached as soon as possible to enable the resumption of basic services to the war-stricken northern region.

"In order to ensure a sustained provision of humanitarian aid as well as to facilitate the resumption of basic services and also to resolve the conflict peacefully; the committee has underscored that there is a need to conclude a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible," the Ethiopian peace committee said in a statement.

It went on to also say "To expedite this process, the committee has deliberated upon and adopted a peace proposal that would lead to the conclusion of a ceasefire and lay the foundation for future political dialogue."

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) dismissed the Ethiopian peace committee's call, saying the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had shown no real appetite for dialogue.

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda accused the government of "obfuscation" and said its forces were "actively provoking our forces in various fronts".

"They have openly defied their oft-repeated promise to take measures aimed at creating conducive environment for peaceful negotiations such as ensuring unfettered humanitarian access and restoration of services to Tigray," he said on Twitter.

The TPLF has long insisted that basic services would have to be restored to the region of six million people before dialogue could begin.

The peace committee said it would submit its proposal to the African Union (AU), which has been leading the push to end a conflict that has killed untold numbers of people and left millions in need of humanitarian aid.

"All effort is being exerted in collaboration with the African Union so that it would be possible to determine the venue and time for talks and to begin peace talks quickly and to conclude a ceasefire agreement shortly," it said.

Abiy's government says any negotiations must be led by the AU's Horn of Africa envoy Olusegun Obasanjo but the rebels want outgoing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to mediate.

The war in northern Ethiopia was unleashed when Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, ordered troops into Tigray to topple the TPLF, accusing rebels of attacking federal army camps.

It followed months of tensions between the government and the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for three decades until Abiy took office in 2018.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is from Tigray, on Wednesday described the "man-made catastrophe" there as the "worst disaster on Earth" and slammed global leaders for overlooking the humanitarian crisis.

Ethiopia's northernmost region has suffered desperate food shortages and is without access to basic services such as electricity, communications and banking.

"This unimaginable cruelty must end. The only solution is peace," he said at a press conference in Geneva.