•In a letter to the chairman of the African Union Mousa Faki Mahamat, the former president cited a clash in his schedule as the reason for not being in a position to attend.
• The former president, however, expressed commitment to being a party to such a meeting in future if informed prior.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta has said he will not attend AU peace talks on the Ethiopia conflict.
In a letter to the chairman of the African Union Mousa Faki Mahamat, the former president cited a clash in his schedule as the reason for not being in a position to attend.
“I wish to notify your good office that I will not be able to attend the AU-Convened Peace Talks scheduled for October 8, 2022, in South Africa owing to conflicts in my schedule,” he said in the letter.
The former president, however, expressed commitment to being a party to such a meeting in future if informed prior.
He at the same time issued demands on the structure and modalities of such talks before confirming his participation on the pace.
“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 but not limited to the rules of engagement for all the interlocutors invited. This clarification would greatly help in preparations for my engagement and participation.”
“Furthermore, as we discuss the agenda for the talks, it is my hope that among the most urgent issues high on that agenda will be the immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities,” he stated.
“This silencing of the guns is particularly important in order to avail the right conditions for the consultations and negotiations while alleviating human suffering and allowing for continued access to humanitarian assistance.”
Uhuru was given the mandate by President William Ruto, which he announced during his swearing-in on September 13.
“I have asked my elder brother President Uhuru Kenyatta who has done commendable engagements with those regions and he has graciously agreed to continue chairing those discussions on behalf of the people of Kenya,” Ruto said.
Uhuru was expected to lead the talks alongside former Nigerian president Olesegun Obasanjo and former South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The talks are aimed at ending the two-year conflict between Ethiopia's government and the rival Tigray forces.
Tigray Defense forces are fighting the Ethiopian national Defense Force, Ethiopian federal police, and regional police with involvement of the Eritrean Defence Forces.
The fights sparked in 2020 after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed merged the ethnic and region-based constituent parties of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary democratic front (EPRDF) coalition and several opposition parties into his new Prosperity party.
This was part of his wider plans to distance the country from ethnic federalism and ethnic nationalist politics.
The Tigray people's liberation (TPLF) front, a politically powerful entity that had dominated Ethiopian politics for 27 years as a repressive regime through a one-party dominant system refused to join the new party.
TPLF, led by its chairman Debretsion Gebremichael, went ahead with regional elections in Tigray in September 2020 in defiance of the federal government, which then declared the Tigray election illegal.