African Union (AU) envoys appointed to mediate in the conflict between Ethiopia’s government and the northern Tigray state will not visit the war-hit region, a senior aide to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said.
AU President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa on Friday appointed former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe as special envoys to mediate in the crisis.
But a senior adviser to Ethiopia’s prime minister has told the BBC the three former presidents will only meet Mr Abiy.
The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga asked Mamo Mihretu how the envoys can do their job if they can’t meet the opposition leaders.
Mr Mamo answered:
He said the government had been clear it would not negotiate with criminals.
“Quote Message: I think our African brothers and sisters would play even more significant role if they put pressure on TPLF to surrender.”
He said the three envoys will be updated by the prime minister on the ongoing operation.
Mr Abiy on Sunday gave the forces in Tigray 72 hours to surrender as government troops advance on the capital, Mekelle.