Talks between Ethiopia's government and rival Tigray regional rebel forces would be the first formal negotiations between the two sides since war broke out in November 2020.
African Union-led peace talks proposed for this weekend to try to end a two-year conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region have been delayed for logistical reasons, two diplomatic sources said.
The diplomatic sources, who asked not to be named, said on Friday that the postponement was related to organising logistics and that a new date had not yet been scheduled.
Ethiopia's government and rival Tigray regional rebel forces said on Wednesday that they accepted the AU's invitation to talks in South Africa, which would be the first formal negotiations between the two sides since conflict broke out in November 2020.
Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu; Redwan Hussein, the national security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed; Getachew Reda, a spokesperson for the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF); and Ebba Kalondo, an AU spokesperson, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The negotiations will be led by Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, supported by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, according to one of the AU's invitation letters seen by Reuters news agency.
The conflict between the Tigray rebel forces and Ethiopia’s federal government renewed in late August, ending a lull in fighting in place since March that had allowed thousands of truckloads of aid to enter the Tigray region, where more than 5 million people need humanitarian assistance.
Now aid deliveries have stopped.
Forces from neighbouring Eritrea are again deeply involved in the fighting on the side of Ethiopian forces, according to witnesses and recent satellite imagery.
Millions of people in northern Ethiopia, including the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar, have been uprooted from their homes and tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed since the conflict broke out.
Babies in Tigray are dying in their first month of life at four times the rate before the war cut off access to most medical care for over 5 million people, the AP news agency reported this week, citing a yet-unpublished study shared by its authors.
Women are dying during pregnancy or within 42 days of giving birth at five times the rate before the war.