By: Nakachew Ayele
Addis Ababa ( Ethiopia Today) March 10, 2023: State media reported that the Federal National Rehabilitation Commission, led by Commissioner Teshome Toga, and Tigray regional state officials are holding a consultative forum in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray state, on the process of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) and the national rehabilitation of ex-Tigrayan combatants.
The meeting was conducted based on the Nairobi meeting on November 12 of last year, where it was agreed to form a joint committee to “elaborate on the modalities for the implementation of a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program.”
Subsequently, the African Union’s Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mission (MVCM) team had launched the disarmament process of Tigrayan combatants and confirmed the Tigrayan forces’ handing over of heavy weapons to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces on January 10.
Under the “Disarmament of Tigray armed combatants” of the Nairobi Declaration, it was stated that “disarmament of heavy weapons will be done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region.”
Ambassador Teshome said that holding the joint consultative forum in Mekelle for the first time was made possible due to the “stable situation in the region after the ceasefire agreement,” state media quoted him as saying. He also said that it was meant to be an indication of the progress of trust between the two warring parties.
Commissioner Teshome further said the Rehabilitation Commission he is leading will work to ensure the reintegration of ex-combatants into the community and to participate in development, peace, and democracy building, as well as to return to a “peaceful life in a sustainable way.”
He stated that Ethiopia had implemented two such programs in the past, and that the current Commission will work to make this one effective by taking lessons from the past as well as from international experiences on DDR.
Getachew Reda, advisor to Tigray’s leader Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), is quoted as saying that the consultative forum is important to strengthen the peace and for future reconstruction and reform works.
He also highlighted that it was necessary to make members of the Tigrayan forces who took part in the fighting after leaving their professional careers return to their previous professional fields. To this end, the discussion is not only helpful for Tigray but also shows what the reconstruction and reform work should look like at the national level.
The forum is also being attended by Turhan Saleh, resident representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Ethiopia, who is supporting the program to enable ex-fighters to reintegrate into society and contribute positively.
“It is the responsibility of the entire international community to stand with Ethiopia in implementing the program,” Turhan adds.