Published at Addis Standard
On November 2, 2022, in Pretoria, South Africa, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (GoE) government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (the Pretoria deal). Ten days later came the Declaration of the Senior Commanders on the Modalities for the Implementation of the Pretoria deal (‘Modalities’). The international community has been all but unanimous in its support for the agreement. One might imagine that Tigrayans, who have endured a series of horrors during the two years of the conflict, would be especially jubilant over what was an apparent breakthrough, this, however, has not entirely been the case. In Tigray the deal has been met with a respite and a degree of caution.
Only time will tell whether or not the deal will hold, and exactly what political structures will emerge in Tigray as a result. It is axiomatic to assert that peace agreements are only as effective as their implementation. So far, the implementation of the Pretoria deal is lagging in civilian protection, aid provision, restoration of services, and withdrawal of forces. Another major issue – the establishment of an interim governance structure in Tigray also awaits implementation.
Marriage of convenience
Article 10 of the Pretoria deal aims to establish ‘an inclusive Interim Regional Administration (IRA) [that] will be settled through political dialogue between the Parties’ within a week of the GoE removing TPLF from its of terrorist organizations. The establishment of the IRA, the Pretoria deal states, ‘will be settled through political dialogue between the Parties.’ Under this arrangement, The Pretoria deal aims to bring about a forced marriage between the parties to the deal – Tigray’s TPLF and the Prosperity Party of Abiy Ahmed’s government, previously greatly at odds.