Tigray forces begin handing over heavy weapons to Ethiopian army
Tigray forces, who fought a two-year war against Ethiopia's federal government, began handing over heavy weaponry to the national army on Tuesday, as part of an African Union-led peace process.
The demobilization of Tigray forces is seen as central to the November 2 ceasefire agreement, alongside the restoration of services, resumption of humanitarian aid and withdrawal of Eritrean troops, who fought alongside Ethiopia's army but were not party to the truce.
The conflict created famine-like conditions for hundreds of thousands of Tigray's population, killed thousands and displaced millions across northern Ethiopia.
The handover in the town of Agulae, around 30 kilometers northeast of the regional capital Mekelle, was overseen by a monitoring team comprising members of the two sides and a regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
At the ceremony, Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) representative Mulugeta Gebrechristos said the start of the disarmament would play a major role in restoring peace.
"We are operating with the belief that if we are to have peace, all things that open the door for provocation must not be there. Peace is vital for us all," Mulugeta said in a speech broadcast on Tigrai TV.
(Cover: Drivers uncover the trucks' cargo beds at a security checkpoint where an aid convoy directed to Ethiopia's Tigray region is being inspected on the outskirts of Semera, Afar region, Ethiopia, May 15, 2022. /CFP)