(Bloomberg) -- The African Union appointed three former heads of state as envoys to mediate a conflict between the Ethiopian federal government and the northern region of Tigray.

The move marks a turning point after the Ethiopian government had rejected earlier calls for mediation in what it termed an internal matter. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed now has accepted the initiative, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union, said in a statement on Twitter.

“The primary task of the special envoys is to engage all sides to the conflict with a view to ending hostilities, creating conditions for an inclusive national dialogue to resolve all issues that led to the conflict, and restoring peace and stability to Ethiopia,” the chairman said after a meeting with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde.

Hostilities erupted Nov. 4 after months of tension between the federal and regional governments. Tigrayan authorities say 100,000 people have been displaced, and the United Nations has warned that an additional 1.1 million people may need aid.

The envoys are Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former president of Liberia; and Kgalema Motlanthe, former president of South Africa, who will travel to Ethiopia in “coming days.”

Ramaphosa said the process is aimed at creating a “dialogue and an end to fighting that has cost many lives and extensive displacement of people.”

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