Statement from the Amhara People's Negotiations Delegation (APND) - Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Regarding the Announcement of Permanent Cessation of Hostilities between the Prosperity Party (PP) and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) Brokered by the African Union (AU)
Pictured is the four-person APND leadership committee consisting of: Mr. Tewodrose Tirfe (top left), Dr. Dessalegn Chanie (top right),
Dr. Wondwossen Assefa (bottom left), and General Tefera Mamo (bottom right)
Wednesday, November 9, 2022 (Tikimit 30, 2015 EC)
The Amhara People’s Negotiations Delegation (APND) welcomes news of a permanent cessation of hostilities agreement announced by the African Union (AU) on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022 to end the devastating war in Northern Ethiopia. With this being said, the APND strongly believes that this process was flawed and will not bring lasting peace and stability to Ethiopia. The participants of the flawed AU-mediated negotiations process failed to uphold principles of inclusivity and justice which could have been avoided if Amharas, the largest stakeholder in the war were represented. After all, bilateral peace talks between the Prosperity Party (PP) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in a multilateral conflict cannot possibly resolve the complex issues underlying the fighting. Therefore, including Amharas is not just beneficial to this process but essential to its success.
The primary error of the AU-led peace talks was in failing to finally provide a formal acknowledgement of restoration of the Welkait and Raya areas (ancestral Amhara lands) back to Amhara administration and instead proposing the matter be resolved through constitutional means. Approaching the problem in accordance with the constitution is an insult to Amharas who tried to resolve the matter through this process for the last 27 years and faced killings, arrests, torture, and marginalization. Cognizant of this and the culture of impunity and absence of rule of law in the country, the agreement to resolve the identity and border questions of Welkait and Raya is largely taken by Amharas as yet another attempt to reimpose the same brutal apartheid administration which led to decades of Amhara Genocide on the lands of Welkait and Raya. The scars from this era are still fresh as today marks the 2-year anniversary of the November 9th, 2020, Mai-Kadra massacre in which over 1,700 Amhara civilians were killed in Mai-Kadra town, making this the single worst atrocity of the war. The Mai-Kadra massacre was a continuation of decades of Amhara Genocide which has been documented. According to research from Gonder University, over 60,000 Amharas are estimated to have been killed in TPLF’s concentration camps in the Welkait area from 1983 to present. Families of victims and survivors never received justice or restitution for their suffering over this period. However, these documented genocidal acts by TPLF against Amharas in Welkait, Raya and beyond explains the consensus among Amharas that residents of Welkait and Raya should never again be denied freedom to express their true identity nor be forced to live under apartheid rule. The crimes of the past were not prevented, and the victims of these crimes never received justice but at the very least they should never again have to face those horrors.
The APND would also like to recognize the agreement's failure to lay the groundwork for eventual constitutional reform in Ethiopia. Aside from normalizing ethnic apartheid in Ethiopia and contributing to recurrent conflict in the country, the current constitution is not legitimate because it was imposed onto the Ethiopian people by elites from the TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Front in the 1990s. The war and the subsequent discussions offer a chance to reckon with the problems and dangers the current constitution has created to pave a better path to the future for all Ethiopians. Thus, the exclusion of Amharas - one of the largest communities that historically rejected the constitution, and as a result - the absence of discussion on reimagining a new constitution is a regrettable waste of an opportunity for lasting peace and stability in Ethiopia and the wider region.