U.S. will not hesitate to use sanctions to ensure Ethiopian ceasefire agreement is respected

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will not hesitate to use sanctions to ensure that a ceasefire agreement between Ethiopia’s government and forces from the Tigray region is respected and will hold to account those responsible for human rights violations, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.

Asked what would happen if Eritrean forces and fighters from the neighboring Amhara region do not withdraw from the Tigray region as agreed, the official said: “I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in terms of what will happen if these commitments aren’t abided by,” but added that sanctions are always a tool available to Washington.

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“The United States always has at its disposal as a policy tool the prospect of sanctions and we will not hesitate to deploy them if that should become necessary in terms of holding actors accountable for human rights violations or for the purposes of trying to ensure that this agreement is respected and abided,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

The official added that Washington is hearing from the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan authorities that they are committed to ensuring that Eritrean forces and fighters from Amhara withdraw from Tigray.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and Tigrayan forces signed a ceasefire on Nov. 2 to end two years of fighting that have killed thousands, shattered infrastructure and uprooted millions from their homes.

A deal for implementation of the ceasefire signed on Saturday made it explicit that disarmament would happen alongside foreign and other forces, excluding the Ethiopian army, withdrawing from the region.

Troops from neighbouring Eritrea, as well as forces from other Ethiopian regions, have fought on the side of the Ethiopian army.

“This is the early days. It’s promising in terms of the follow-on action that we’re starting to see happening, but you can rest assured that we won’t rest for a minute,” the official said.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington and Ismail Shakil in Ottawa Editing by Matthew Lewis

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