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Ethiopia sets up committee to negotiate peace with Tigray rebel forces

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The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, has set up a committee to negotiate peace and a ceasefire with rebel forces from the northern region of Tigray, in what is seen as the first public confirmation of key steps towards peace negotations.

The committee which was set up on Tuesday by the government, is aimed at ending the nearly two-year conflict in Africa’s second-most populous nation which has killed thousands of civilians, displaced more than nine million people and plunged parts of the Tigray region into famine conditions.

Speaking to members of parliament during a special session, Abiy said:

“Regarding the peace … a committee has been established and it will study how we will conduct talks,” the first time he will be publicly referring to the body.

The committee which is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, has 10 to 15 days to hammer out details of negotiations and submit to the government.

The move is also seen as the Ethiopian government’s best attempt at finding a lasting solution to the conflict since fighting erupted in Tigray in November 2020 and spilled over into the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara last year.

The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, TPLF, a former rebel army which transformed into a political party, had dominated national politics for nearly three decades until Abiy’s appointment in 2018 reduced their rule to Tigray.

The TPLF has continued to accuse Abiy of wanting to centralise power at the expense of the regions, while he said they were seeking to regain national power.

The war between the national government forces and its allies and the Tigrayan forces has upset Abiy’s plans to modernise Ethiopia’s dwindling state-run economy with widespread reports of hunger, mass killings of civilians, sexual violence and allegations of ethnic cleansing.

Metro

Nigeria: Zamfara state government wants gun licenses for residents over insecurity

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The Commissioner for information in one of Nigeria’s Northern states, Zamfara state says residents in the state can start approaching the police command in the state for gun licences.

The troubled state wants individuals to carry guns to defend themselves against armed gangs of kidnappers causing havoc in the country’s northwest.

The commissioner, Ibrahim Magaji Dosara in statement said the state governor had directed the state police commissioner to issue 500 gun licences in each of the 19 emirates in the state to those wishing to defend themselves.

“Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers to secure basic weapons for defending themselves,” Dosara said.

The state also banned the use of motorcyles and selling of petrol in three districts and one emirate, in areas which are the most affected by banditry, Dosara said. The state is divided into emirates and the emirates into districts.

“Anybody found riding motorbike within the areas is considered as bandits and security agencies are thereby directed to shoot such persons at sight,” said Dosara.

Gunmen, locally called bandits, have been attacking and killing thousands of people in the country’s North-west since 2017. These assailants have attacked rural dwellers, destroyed their farmlands and in many cases only allow them to the farm after they have paid protection fees. They have also targeted travellers across the region in what some analysts say is one of the most lucrative kidnap-for-ransom syndicates in the continent.

Owning a gun in Zamfara needs permission from the state governor and state police commissioner.

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Ex-Liberian rebel warlord charged in US over attempt to obtain citizenship fraudulently

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A former commanding general of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), a notorious rebel group during the West African country’s civil war, Moses Wright, who had sought asylum in the US has been charged with fraudulently attempting to obtain US citizenship, among other crimes.

According to the United States Justice Department, the 69-year-old Wright lied about his involvement in the persecuting and killing of non-combatants during the war when he applied for US citizenship.

If convicted, Wright faces a maximum possible sentence of 165 years in prison and a $7m (£5.7m) fine, according to the JD.

“The United States will not be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” the United States Attorney, Jacqueline C. Romero, said on the indictment of Wright.

The indictment of Wright comes after two other former combatants in Liberia’s civil war, Mohammed Jabbateh and Thomas Woewiyu, were convicted in the US for similar offences while a third rebel leader, Sekou Kamara, was arrested earlier this year in New York.

The AFL was responsible for death of an estimated 250,000 Liberians which amounted to around 8% of the population at the time, in the war which started from 1989 to 1997 and in 1999 to 2003, according to a report by the Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in late 2021, which described the AFL as a “significant violator group found to be behind some of the civil war’s largest scale massacres.”

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