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Uhuru skips AU peace talks on Ethiopia conflict due to ‘conflict in his schedule’

Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta will not attend the Africa Union peace talks on the conflict in Ethiopia conflict since he has ‘other’ engagements.

The former head of state was expected to attend the meeting in South Africa that are aimed at ending a two-year conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.

Mr Kenyatta in a statement said that he will not be able to attend the AU- convened Peace Talks scheduled on October 8 due to conflict in his schedule.

“Regrettably, I wish to notify your good office that I will not be able to attend the AU Peace talks in South Africa owing to conflicts in my schedule,” he said.

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“However, in the interim and as you consider the possibility for another date for the peace talks, I would be grateful to receive further clarity on the structure and modalities of the talks, including and not limited to the rules of engagement for all the interlocutors invited,” said the former president.

However, multiple international media houses have since reported that peace talks have been delayed for logistical reasons.

Aljazeera quoted two unnamed diplomatic sources who said the postponement was related to organizing logistics and that a new date had not yet been scheduled.

Ethiopia’s government and rival Tigray regional forces said that they accepted the AU’s invitation to talks in South Africa, which would be the first formal negotiations between the two sides since war broke out in November 2020.

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The conflict has claimed several lives and paralyzed basic activities.

The negotiations were to be led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU’s high representative for the Horn of Africa, supported by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

President William Ruto, after being sworn in, appointed Mr Kenyatta as Kenya’s peace envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa.

Under President Kenyatta’s administration, Kenya moderated various peace initiatives in the region, including chairing the African Union Peace and Security Council, the standing decision-making organ of the continental body for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa.

Kenya has been representing Africa at the United Nations Security Council since January 2021 for one year and will be succeeded by Mozambique for the year 2023.

Also read: Ruto critiques Uhuru’s actions as president