Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has met an African Union mission that arrived in Addis Ababa to try to mediate between his government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after more than three weeks of military conflict.
“The federal government once again expresses its gratitude to President Cyril Rampahosa and the esteemed African elders and Special Envoys that imparted their wisdom, insights, and readiness to support in any way they are needed,” a statement from the office of the Prime Minister read.
Mr. Abiy had previously branded international efforts to bring the two parties to the table as “unwelcome”, and the AU mission will not be allowed to meet Tigray officials.
After Friday’s meeting with three special AU envoys, Mr. Abiy said in a statement that his government was seeking to ensure the protection of civilians, it was opening a humanitarian corridor, and it will welcome back Ethiopian refugees who fled into Sudan.
However, the prime minister said his government would continue its efforts against what it calls the “TPLF clique”.
The AU envoys – ex-presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa – will not be allowed to travel to Tigray, the government has already said.
Ethiopia’s presidency has thanked the “esteemed African elders” for their “readiness to support”. But it’s not clear how the envoys can accomplish their mission without meeting both sides.