FILE - Ethiopian government soldiers ride in the back of a truck on a road near Agula, north of Mekelle, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on May 8, 2021.

The African Union has invited representatives of Ethiopia’s government and leaders of the northern Tigray region for peace talks in South Africa later this week to end the nearly two-year-old civil war that has devastated the region.

The October 1 letter from Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, said the talks would be facilitated by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU’s special envoy, with the support of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

The letter said the talks are “aimed at laying the foundation for a structured and sustained mediation” between the two sides “towards a durable resolution of the conflict.”

Redwan Hussein, the national security adviser to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, said Wednesday that the government had accepted the AU’s invitation in a post on his Twitter account.

Hussein said the invitation “is [in line] with our principled position regarding the peaceful resolution of the conflict and the need to have talks without preconditions.” 

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front has not confirmed if Debretsion Gebremichael, the head of the TPLF, has received the letter or accepted the invitation.

The conflict in Tigray between the Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF began in November 2020 when Ethiopian government with its allied forces launched what it termed a "law enforcement operation," a military offensive in response to attacks by the TPLF.

The TPLF accuses neighboring Eritrea of joining the renewed fighting and deploying its forces to Tigray where they have been previously accused of committing war crimes. Eritrean officials deny the allegations.

The conflict quickly exploded into a civil war which, along with looming famine, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions of others. Source: VOA