Two sources within the Government of Ethiopia who requested not to be named told UMD Media independently that African Union’s letter dated October 1, 2022 addressed to Tigray’s President Debretsion Gebremichael was drafted by Abiy Ahmed’s team and Moussa Faki’s staff.
The content and the way the letter was written attracted attention from critiques who pointed out the inconsistency in how it is addressed to the President of Tigray but mentions the talk as between Ethiopia and the TPLF, and how the date for talks mentioned as October 8 as Sunday, not Saturday. A more serious critic was the timing of the letter and how it was written without prior knowledge of the two mediators, Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta and South Africa’s former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
According to one of the sources, the letter is just one indicator of a larger problem as to how the African Union has been handling the Tigray-Ethiopia file saying, “Moussa Faki is being effectively used by Abiy Ahmed to reduce international pressure on Ethiopia to stop the Ethiopia-Eritrea joint offensive launched on Tigray on August 24 2022”.
The offensive continues to intensify forcing the US and other governments to issue statements this week. For UMD Media’s second source, “African Union’s peace initiative is about giving Ethiopia more time to give Abiy Ahmed’s war a chance under the disguise of planned talks without meaning it. “ The source pointed out the fact that how the letter was shared in public with no preparation of logistics, not informing Tigray as a party to the conflict, and no consultation with the mediators in time all add up to the tactics of delay.
In this tactic of giving Abiy Ahmed a peace-talks cover, Moussa Faki is not alone. One of the sources told UMD Media that African Union’s Horn Africa’s Envoy and former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo frequently takes part in Mousa Faki’s and Abiy Ahmed’s ‘Shiro Time’ at the Arat Kilo Palace, and Abiy Ahmed “uses this dine and wine time to clear whatever Moussa Faki does in terms of peace talks related activities and communications”. Shiro is Ethiopia’s traditional stew. The source provided a recent example of a peace proposal submitted by the United States to the African Union and how Moussa Faki passed the proposal to Abiy Ahmed who reportedly didn’t like it and stopped it.
One of the sources said, “Given what we know about how the African Union is not showing any semblance of an independent continental organization by operating under the unprecedented influence of a head of state who is a big part of the largest war in the world, it remains to be seen if the recent statements from the US government that still use the term “African Union-led” initiative mean anything”
The UMD Media sources who are privy to the Arat Kilo Palace because of their position in the government added that the former Nigerian Minister of Environment Ms. Amina J. Mohammed who is currently serving as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations is also playing a part in the delay tactic and providing false peace talk hopes in support of government of Ethiopia. The African Union October 1, 2022 letter to Debertsion Gebremichael was delayed at least by two days during which it was shared to Ms. Mohammed as part of the Abiy Ahmed circle at a time Uhuru Kenyatta was still kept in the dark.
It is to be recalled former President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and Tigray’s President Debretsion Gebremichael responded to the African Union letter. Tigray government leaders in the past expressed their opposition to Mr. Obasanjo continued role as chief mediator. The African Union has ignored Tigray’s questioning of Mr. Obasanjo’s impartiality and has recently renewed his tenure.