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President Ruto calls for dialogue on Tigray Conflict

President William Ruto has expressed his concerns over the growing scale of conflict in Ethiopia.

Early this month, the British and Canadian governments broke the news of Eritrean authorities calling on their armed forces to mobilize in response to the renewed fighting in Tigray.

“We are very concerned. This is our neighbourhood. Whatever happens in Ethiopia gets to Kenya.” said President Ruto.

While speaking to France 24 in New York, President Ruto said a faultering Ethiopia weakens Kenya, and therefore its important for Kenya to get involved.

In 2020, the Ethiopian military, ethnic militias, and troops from neighboring Eritrea have all joined forces with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a battle to drive the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or T.P.L.F., out of its stronghold in the northern province of Tigray.

A year of conflict in Ethiopia, the second-most populous nation in Africa and a key player in regional security has resulted in thousands of fatalities, the eviction of over two million people from their homes, and the onset of famine-like circumstances in some regions.

A truce that had been in place since March was broken last month, shattering hopes for a peaceful end to the nearly two-year conflict between Ethiopian authorities and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Since then, Tigrayan authorities have indicated their willingness to participate in negotiations mediated by the African Union; however, the Ethiopian government has not officially replied to the offers, other than to reiterate its “commitment” to the AU-mediated peace process.

Fighting has moved from southern Tigray to other fronts further north and west, bringing in Eritrean troops who supported Ethiopian forces in the early stages of the war. Both sides have accused one other of opening fire first.

President Ruto tasked former President Uhuru Kenyatta with leading Kenya’s peace envoy in dealing with the conflicts in the region. He confirmed having spoken to Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, former President Thabo Mbeki, and US foreign secretary Antony Blinken over the matter.

“We should be able to bring the sides to the table at the earliest possible opportunity because that war makes the whole of the horn Africa a very slippery and dicey place,” he said.

The President expressed confidence in finding a resolution to the conflict with the African Union framework.

Kenya’s exports to Ethiopia stood at about KSh. 13 billion in 2021.

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