Tigray Accuses AU of Bias

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has accused the African Union (AU) of bias, just days after the bloc appointed former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as a mediator.

TPLF spokesman, Getachew Reda, in a statement on Twitter, accused the AU of “being partial” towards the Ethiopian government and added it would be “naive to expect this mission to work”.

“The appointment by the African Union of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to mediate between Abiy Ahmed’s regime and the Government of Tigray raises a number of questions. One, Moussa Faki Mahamat (Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC)) or the AUC have yet to withdraw their official support for Abiy’s ‘law enforcement’ war in Tigray. 

“And equally important, the AUC still has not fully recognized the genocidal campaign against the people of Tigray for what it is. Solving a crisis at the very least requires acknowledging the existence, let alone the magnitude of the problem. There is hardly any record of the AUC ever discussing the war on Tigray in earnest. I know it is a luxury they can afford, but have they ever tried to reach out to the people of Tigray or its leaders? Unless the AUC Chair can answer these in the affirmative, it would be naive to expect this mission to work. 

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“Let it be clear that we in Tigray are not in any way opposed to the ideals the AU stands for or against Chief Obasanjo’s role. What we are hard-pressed to know is how people would reasonably expect a constructive role from an institution that has given partiality a very bad name,” Reda noted.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray in November to overthrow TPLF, the region’s ruling party, blaming the move on attacks on army camps in the region.

Ahmed, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, announced that the war would be over quickly, but instead, it has dragged on for over a year, triggering a humanitarian crisis in Tigray, while rebels have pushed into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions.

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Abiy turned down early requests from top AU officials for talks with Tigrayan leaders, sticking to his position that the conflict is a limited “law and order” operation.

On Thursday, the AU announced Obasanjo’s appointment as a high representative for the Horn of Africa, saying it was part of a “drive to promote peace, security, stability and political dialogue”.

But on Sunday, TPLF spokesman Getachew dismissed the initiative, saying: “We are hard-pressed to know how people would reasonably expect a constructive role from an institution that has given partiality a very bad name”.

“Solving a crisis at the very least requires acknowledging the existence, let alone the magnitude of the problem,” he wrote on Twitter.

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Obasanjo previously headed the AU’s election observer mission during Ethiopia’s presidential elections in June 2020. Abiy had won the polls by a landslide but a fifth of the country’s constituencies, including in Tigray, were unable to vote due to ethnic violence and logistical problems.

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