AU envoy says optimistic over peaceful resolution of Ethiopian conflict

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ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson's High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday expressed his optimism that escalating conflict in Northern Ethiopia can be solved peacefully.

Obasanjo, who has been meeting actors in Ethiopia and beyond, said in a statement on the prospects for peace in Ethiopia that "I am optimistic that common ground towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict can be secured."

"The interlocutors I have engaged on all sides have stated their wish for peace, security, and stability in Ethiopia," an AU statement quoted Obasanjo as saying.

According to Obasanjo, the main point of difference between the actors in the conflict is in the means by which they seek to achieve the ultimate objective.

"War represents a failure of politics. Thus, dialogue remains the only reliable and sustainable avenue to peace," the former Nigerian president said.

Emphasizing that there is no military solution to the conflict as battlefield victory cannot guarantee political stability in Ethiopia, the former Nigerian president called on the leadership of all sides to halt their military offensives.

He noted that a ceasefire will allow an opportunity for dialogue to continue to progress.

Obasanjo stressed that peace talks cannot deliver in an environment of escalated military hostilities.

The envoy further called on "all people of goodwill" and leaders in Africa and the international community to continue to support the mediation efforts and to refrain from actions or rhetoric that will, wittingly or unwittingly, worsen the conflict.

Amid the escalating conflict that erupted a year ago on Nov. 4 in Ethiopia's northernmost Tigray region between forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), various actors are calling for peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Following the federal government's unilateral ceasefire in Tigray back in June and the eventual control of much of the area in the region, including the regional capital Mekelle by rebel forces, the conflict has recently expanded to Tigray's neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.

Over the past weeks, the TPLF declared control of key cities in the Amhara region, Dessie and Kombolcha, some 380 km north of the capital. This was eventually followed by huge popular mobilization by the Amhara and Afar regions as well as national mobilization to fight back the TPLF's expansion. Enditem

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