A Week in the Horn 19.02.2021

News in Brief

Press Statement on Ethiopia-Sudan Border Dispute

Efforts to obstruct the course of justice through feigned or actual hunger strike are unacceptable

Government’s renewed commitment to address issues following the law enforcement operation in Tigray

President Shale-work Zewde’s visit to the Nile River Basin countries and the CFA

Ethiopia shall prevail!

Ethiopia and Israel hold their third political consultation

Ethiopia-Djibouti Tourism Forum held in Addis Ababa

Africa and the African Union

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, on Tuesday (February 16) commended the people and leaders of Somalia for progress achieved in recent years towards the stabilization of the country. and called on Somali leaders to resume dialogue and work in a spirit of compromise to overcome the last political hurdles to inclusive elections as soon as possible and respecting the agreement they reached on 17 September 2020.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat warmly congratulated Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria on Monday (February 15) upon her formal selection by the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Upon her formal appointment on 1 March 2021, Dr Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and the first African to head the Organization in its twenty-five year history, a double historical precedent in recognition of her inspirational global leadership.

Six (6) new Board Members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption have been appointed following their election by the African Union Executive Council ministerial meeting on the 4th of February 2021. The Council, by delegated authority, automatically and simultaneously appointed the members after election. The six will take over from the outgoing members whose two-year term lapsed following their election in February 2019.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde ended a two-day working tour of Burundi last week as the two countries move to improve their relations. Speaking on arrival at the Melchior Ndadaye International Airport, she said; “We felt something has been missing in our relations and even with this high level of delegation of Ethiopia to Burundi, none of us has visited this beautiful country before, so am extremely honoured to be the first.” She was met by her counterpart President Evariste Ndayishimiye. During her tour in Bujumbura, the Ethiopian president visited manufacturing companies, the mausoleum before holding a closed-door meeting with President Ndayishimiye. President Sahle-Work’s visit to Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past weeks witnessed discussions over the Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement commonly known as the CFA (See article)

In an online meeting held this on Thursday (February 18), Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali and the regional presidents and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region. The solidarity initiative aims at mobilising the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway. In addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray by way of the Provisional Administration, the regional Presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the Provisional Administration carry out it public service delivery duties.

Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, is on official visit to India from 17-19 February 2021.  The Deputy Premier held bilateral talks with the External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar during his visits. He has inaugurated the newly built Ethiopian embassy and chancery building and participated in a business forum that aimed to strengthen relations between the two countriesThis is the first visit of Demeke Mekonnen to Asia as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia. The high level visit to India is taking place consequent to the last visit of Foreign Minister of Ethiopia to India in 2008 for the 2nd Joint Commission Meeting held between the two countries.

Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Turkey had a discussion on Monday (February 15) in Ankara on ways to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. On the occasion, Mr. Demeke appreciated the all-weather friendship of Turkey and Ethiopia and called on to expedite the growth momentum of the Ethio-Turkish cooperation and strategic partnership. The two senior officials had participated in an inauguration ceremony of the newly built Ethiopian embassy and chancery building in Ankara.

The Ethiopian foreign ministry issued a statement on Thursday (February 18) condemning the “provocative behaviour”, of the Sudan on the joint border adding that it will cause damage to the two countries. “The Ethiopian government strongly believes that the conflict being trumpeted by the Sudanese government’s military wing could only serve the interests of a third party at the expense of the Sudanese people,” said the statement. (See article)

Ethiopia is keenly working on completing the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project by 2023 and considering the dam as water security threat is unfounded and unscientific, said Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy on Tuesday (February 16) . Minister Engineer Seleshi Bekele (Ph.D) further said that the construction of GERD has reached 78.3 percent and it is expected to be completed up to 82 percent until the upcoming rainy season. Engineer Seleshi told a local media that the overall construction of the dam has seen rapid development following the swift measures taken by the reformist administration to ensure professionalism. The administrative adjustments have solved the most critical problems related to decision making and follow-up system, he added.

Apart from respecting Ethiopia’s inviolable sovereignty, international relief agencies that fulfill the country’s basic requirements for delivering humanitarian aids are openly welcomed, Peace Minister Muferiat Kamil said on Tuesday (February 16). The minister told local media that the relief agencies should fulfill the international aid standards while entering a sovereign country. Some humanitarian organizations that are insisting on deploying extra-human power have been banned for obvious reason, she said. No single international relief could enter Ethiopia without legally possessing the government’s permission, she stressed. ‘The Ethiopian government has been granting approval for some foreign aid groups to enter Tigray state having met all the necessary requirements.” So far, over 75 international relief agencies have been approved to mobilize support to people in need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray, she stated. Muferiat noted that some western media and international institutions have engaged in distorting facts on the ground about the Ethiopian government’s efforts of mobilizing support to the affected people in Tigray. Accordingly, the government has dispatched money and in-kind supports to over two million citizens in Tigray .

Ethiopia and Israel held a fruitful and productive political consultation virtually on Monday (February 15), reaching a common understanding to intensify their long-standing and historical relations in bilateral, regional, and multilateral fields. The Political Consultation was held on a special occasion to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of the opening of the Ethiopian Embassy in Israel with the spirit of the 3000 years of historical friendship and partnership. (See article)

Eritrea

In an exclusive, two-hour, interview that was broadcast live on Eri-TV and Radio Dimtis Hafash at 8:00 pm this evening, President Isaias Afwerki elaborated at length the genesis and current situation of the conflict in Tigray Region in Ethiopia; the simmering border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia; the controversy between key riparian States on the use of the waters of Nile River; and, Eritrea’s ties with its partners in the Gulf and Red Sea Region and many other domestic issues. Regarding Ethiopia, President Isaias said,  he had expressly asked Debretzion, the then Acting President of the Tigray Region – in the brief meeting in Omhager, why the TPLF was making huge preparations for a senseless war. He also said, no body imagined that the TPLF would resort to such unprecedented and reckless move to attack the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF) in early November. “This was inexplicable and mind boggling but borne out of miscalculation as is often the case with most wars.” In regard to the simmering border dispute between the Sudan and Ethiopia, President Isaias underlined that any military confrontation will only jeopardize the welfare and interests of both peoples and countries when they are grappling with critical challenges at this juncture of political transitions underway in the two countries.  On the Nile River, President Isaias elaborated on the historical genesis of the dispute, current realities on the ground, future mutual benefits to the populations of Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt and the need and urgency to find technical solutions that take into account all these parameters and that are not based on zero-sum calculus.

Djibouti

A three days Ethio-Djibouti tourism forum that aimed at mapping out new ways of cooperation in the sector as well as strengthening the existing partnerships between the two countries was held on February 11-13, 2021, in Addis Ababa. The forum came at a critical juncture when COVID-19 has depressingly affected the sector and the need to rejuvenate the sector appeared second to none. (See article)

Kenya

A new wave of the desert locust invasion currently destroying crops and pastures in northern Kenya threatens to spiral out of control, having spread to more than 15 counties in the country. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported immature swarms in northern and central counties, and in Kilifi County in upper Coast region. There are a few small immature swarms formed from previous breeding in the Coast region near Lamu and probably in adjacent areas of southern Somalia.

Somalia

Members of Somalia’s Election implementation teams with the mandate to manage Somalia’s upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections have undergone a two-day training on Electoral Safety and Security in Mogadishu, Somalia. Facilitated by the Political Affairs office and jointly led by the Police component of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali Police Force, the training kicked off on Sunday (February 14). In attendance were over 50 members of the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) and State Electoral Implementation Team (SEIT).

In related news, AMISOM announced on Wednesday (February 17) that it has conducted a two-day training to support journalists on Election reporting and voter education in Baidoa, the capital of Southwest State of Somalia. Facilitated by the Public Information Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in conjunction with the Southwest State Ministry of Information and Social Awareness, 30 journalists from Baidoa and Hudur participated in the training.

At least four al-Shabaab terrorists were killed and over 21 others captured during operations in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, African Union peacekeepers said Thursday (February 18). Military operations against the al-Shabaab terrorist group were conducted by Burundian forces serving under the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali national army. “In the vicinity of Qoor Deere, four al-Shabaab terrorists were killed and weapons were seized,” AMISOM said in a statement on Thursday.

Somalia is seeing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases said the country’s health minister Fowzia Abikar Nur on Tuesday (February 16). “We would like to inform the public that this now a second wave,” said Abikar in a press conference. “We have seen faster-rising numbers with a higher peak, possibly, than the first wave.” Abikar said many patients were admitted at De Martino hospital which is the only hospital treating COVID-19 patients in the horn of African nation. She also said that samples collected from patients have been sent abroad for further analysis to confirm if a new variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Somalia. The infection rate has shot up by 52% in February according to data from the Somali health ministry.

South Sudan

China has donated over 14,056 boxes of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to fight child malnutrition in South Sudan. “We are very proud to be in association with UNICEF to deliver the nutrition food to the children who are in dire need of food,” the Chinese ambassador to South Sudan, Hua Ning said on Monday (February 15). He said China is committed to improve bilateral relations with Juba.

The European Union (EU) and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) donated medical supplies to help South Sudan control spread of coronavirus. The donation, including 500,000 surgical masks, 100,000 surgical cups, 100,000 N95-type masks, 30,000 testing kits and four ambulances, will enable front-line healthcare fight the pandemic. Dr. Bortel Ohisa, an official from South Sudan’s Health ministry, appreciated international partners for supporting the young nation.

Sudan

Sudan summoned its ambassador to Ethiopia, Jamal El Sheikh, on Wednesday (February 17) for a consultation on issues between Khartoum and Addis Ababa, including border demarcation matters. The Minister of Foreign Affairs also discussed matters concerning the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in a meeting with the Saudi Minister of State for African Affairs. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maryam El Sadig El Mahdi, said that Ethiopia’s allegations that Sudanese armed forces invaded Ethiopia’s territory are untrue and contradict the agreements signed by the two countries. She also stressed that the re-demarcation of the border cannot be postponed.

European Union diplomats in Khartoum urged the Sudanese government to take bold reforms to halt the deteriorating economic situation in the country. Hamdok government had failed to stop the collapse of the Sudanese pound as one dollar is sold for over 400 pounds; while in January it was sold for over 250 pounds. However, the official exchange rate is 55 pounds for one dollar. Also, the inflation rate in Sudan for the month of January jumped to 304.33% compared to 269.33% in December 2020, which represents n increase of 35 points. On Monday, the head of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan received a number of EU diplomats to Sudan including ambassadors of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

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Press Statement on Ethiopia-Sudan Border Dispute

Issued on February 18, 2021

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia condemns in the strongest possible terms the escalation and provocative behavior of the Government of the Sudan regarding the boundary issue between Ethiopia and the Sudan. Ethiopia believes that any conflict between our two countries would only result in a colossal collateral damage and jeopardizes the well-being of the two nations. Therefore, the Ethiopian government strongly believes that the conflict being trumpeted by the Sudanese government’s military wing could only serve the interests of a third party at the expense of the Sudanese people.

It is to be noted that the two governments have sufficient mechanisms to deal with any claims and counterclaims of the border or any territorial claims. However, the Sudanese National Army violated the basic principles of international law and peaceful settlements of disputes by unceremoniously invading Ethiopia in early November 2020. In doing so, Sudan has violated the bilateral boundary agreements, which stipulate non-displacement of nationals of either nation from their farms jointly registered by the two Governments, the status quo of which shall be maintained until the disposition of the case by an agreement.

The Sudanese side has also overturned and undermined the efforts of the joint boundary committees that have been making tireless efforts to finalize the re-demarcation process of the common boundary. Contrary to the spirit of friendship and cooperation existing between our two brotherly countries, the Sudanese Army looted properties, burned camps, attacked and displaced thousands of Ethiopians and controlled vacated Ethiopian Military Camps.

What is more deplorable is, in an apparent misrepresentation of the facts on the ground, Sudan is deliberately engaged in misinformation campaigns against Ethiopia by accusing the victim as an aggressor, evading accountability by shifting blame and camouflaging its belligerence and continue its provocation in an attempt to control more lands.

Amidst of all these escalatory and provocative behaviour of the Sudan, Ethiopia has shown a great deal of patience,  remained restrained from exercising its legitimate right of self-defence and time and again expressed its commitment to a peaceful settlement of differences regarding the boundary through existing bilateral agreements and joint border mechanisms.  What is needed is a political will of the two governments, which would enable them reach at an amicable solution.

Ethiopia firmly believes in the long standing fraternal relations between the people of Ethiopia and Sudan regardless of the nature of their respective governments. The attempt being made by the Sudanese Army to push the friendly peoples of Ethiopia and Sudan to unwarranted war is a serious blunder that will undermine their peace, stability and development of the two nations in particular and the region in general.

Ethiopia while reiterating its commitment for a peaceful settlement of the boundary issue, once again calls upon the Government of the Sudan to reverse the aggression, desist from provocation and resort to a peaceful settlement of the boundary issue.

Therefore, the Ethiopian government would like to call upon the people of the Sudan to check on its government from serving a  third party interest which only would result in  the determent of the two nations. Furthermore, Ethiopia calls upon brotherly African countries to advice the Sudanese government to finalize the border issues through available mechanisms in peaceful manner.

The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia also thanks the people of Ethiopia for showing maximum patience and profound understanding.

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Efforts to obstruct the course of justice through feigned or actual hunger strike are unacceptable

Recent reports issued by some international human rights organizations and the media on the prisoners whose case is being handled before the court as a result of their involvement in the violent unrest following the murder of the popular singer are casting shadows over Ethiopia’s efforts in building independent and democratic institutions. As a continuation of assigning blames and guilt on the government, these human rights and media organizations have opted to echo the cries of those detainees, who tactically prefer to politicize their criminal case through striking hunger and attract attention.

The FDRE Attorney General has conducted a thorough investigation on the ethnically and religiously motivated violence and charged these individuals with playing a critical role in inciting the violence that has caused the death of more than 100 civilians as well as the destruction of properties. Any civilized political administration draws a proper distinction between peaceful demonstration and violent political activism. In such a system, citizens are equal before the law, and the unlawful death of an individual should be given equal weight to or taken as seriously as an attack on the wellbeing of or the life of any “activist” or “politician.”

According to the FDRE’s Attorney General, there were hundreds of people who have been directly affected by the violence that was instigated and incited by these individuals. Differing political views should continue to be demonstrated peacefully without resorting to different illegal tactics to meet political ends. The Government of Ethiopia has conducted various reforms that facilitate and allow any individual or group to freely demonstrate opinions or political views within the limits of the law.

Attempts to avoid accountability by orchestrating chaos and conflict will not be successful. Efforts to obstruct the course of justice through feigned or actual hunger strikes are unacceptable. The Government of Ethiopia is committed to the principle of due process of law and extra-legal efforts to stymie the judicial process will not bear fruit.

With regards to the status of the conditions of the prisoners, all arrested individuals are allowed visitations by relatives, legal counsel, and medical visits, not to mention the communication infrastructures, such as wireless connections that are placed in all of the holding facilities. These all have been done taking into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the Government of Ethiopia will continue to discharge its obligations concerning the health care of detainees undergoing trial by providing them the medical attention and treatment they need in accordance with the law, in a manner that does not put in harm’s way the general public as well as detainees.

The respect for due process of law has to be at the center of the ongoing trial of these individuals and there should not be any other means to influence the trial process. Any international human rights organization or partner should, therefore, refrain from influencing the legal process as well as politicizing the purely violent nature of the case so as not to weaken, but assist the legal process to fulfill its constitutional obligations, in this case protecting the lives and peaceful coexistence of citizens. All individuals, be it the ones who draw the current undue support and attention or those ordinary victims of the violence, are equal before the law and the Government of Ethiopia is bound to protect their rights.

Reports or statements from international human rights advocates and the media should not hamper the ongoing legal process. Rather they are expected to contribute to strengthen the works of independent Ethiopian institutions and encourage them to continue their efforts to be democratic through various reform initiatives that they have started. Therefore, all relevant international human rights and media organizations are encouraged to carry out their duties impartially and responsibly in a way that does not compromise our efforts to build independent and democratic institutions.

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Government’s renewed commitment to address issues following the law enforcement operation in Tigray

The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia recognizes the protection and humanitarian challenges in the Tigray Regional State that following the recently carried out law enforcement operation. It is with this understanding that the Government is working with renewed commitment to comprehensively respond to the observed challenges. The response focuses on the protection and provision of basic needs and services for affected people as well as addressing systemic issues in the region aiming to find durable solutions.

The Government considers addressing the protection needs of the society, especially the most vulnerable including women and children, as the utmost importance. To this end, it is taking concrete measures to provide the desperately needed lifesaving humanitarian assistance and to provide humanitarian access to relevant agencies. The Government has made steady progress, over the last few weeks, in reaching out to the affected population and identifying areas that require further action. Going forward, the Government will constantly review the humanitarian response in the Region adapting to new and changing challenges.

The Government is also working in tandem with the Interim Administration of the Tigray Regional State to restore law and order. In this regard, investigation, with the joint efforts of the Interim Administration, the Federal Police, and the FDRE Attorney general, has commenced verifying the alleged human rights and humanitarian law violations, including sexual violence. The Government remains committed to bring to justice individuals or groups that are involved in such heinous crimes. All relevant actors and affected populations will be addressed to comprehensively respond to the law-and-order challenges. The Government will continue to fully adhere to its obligations under applicable international or regional instruments to which Ethiopia is a party and enhance the protection of the most vulnerable in the Tigray Regional State.

Rehabilitation of basic services and rebuilding the necessary infrastructure in the Tigray Region is another area that has received the utmost attention of the Government. These efforts of the Government could be complemented by the international community as it will enable it to gradually return life in the region to normal.

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President Shale-work Zewde’s visit to the Nile River Basin countries and the CFA

The Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement commonly known as the CFA is a basin-wide agreement that specifies its scope as covering the use, development, protection, conservation, and management of the Nile River Basin and its resources through a permanent institutional mechanism, which is the Nile River Basin Commission (NRBC).  The basic part of the CFA emphasizes two cardinal principles of international water law, namely, the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization as well as causing no significant harm.

Thus, the CFA is intended to put in place a comprehensive legal and institutional framework that regulates the use and development of the trans-boundary water resources of the Nile waters equitably and reasonably for the mutual benefit of all riparian countries without discrimination. As a result, the introduction of a comprehensive legal and institutional mechanism could replace the unjust status quo established by the 1929 colonial treaty and the 1959 bilateral treaty between Egypt and Sudan. 

The Nile basin countries who could not attain development were held hostage by increasingly unpredictable rainfall, decided to utilize their water resources through a mechanism that satisfies all basin countries. As a result, nine riparian countries, including Egypt and Sudan, have negotiated for more than ten years. So far six out of nine countries have signed and four of them have already ratified the agreement. Following the remaining two ratifications or two accessions in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements and depositing the instruments of ratification within the AU, the CFA will enter into force and the Nile River Commission will be functional.  The Nile River Basin Commission, which would be assigned with legal personality will ensure national development projects to achieve optimal use of the Nile water resources and increase national benefits of regional cooperation.

In this connection, the coalition that has been established and sustained among the upstream countries is a show of their strong commitment to correct the colonial legacy and it is also an indication of the convergence of their interests in achieving mutual socio-economic development.

Despite a clear and strong position of the upstream countries on the non-binding effect of the 1929 and 1959 treaties on them, Egypt and Sudan have been attempting to perpetuate the unfair and obsolete status quo through different unfair and non-feasible insistence. None of these initiatives had provided a clear legal and institutional mechanism that could lead to an equitable utilization of the Nile river waters among the riparian states. Besides, a lack of the required resources among other things has hindered the upper riparian countries for decades, from utilizing the Nile waters in their respective territories for their developments.

At this moment in time, however, upper riparian countries have been playing a leading role in enhancing cooperation and realizing the CFA in the basin. They have contended with their efforts to work jointly to change the unfair colonial legacy that was imposed up on them and are determined to ensure equitable and reasonable utilization of the shared Nile water resources. Contrary to this, the hostile campaign against the CFA is not the best option for the mutual benefit of all the Basin States. Therefore, the downstream countries must come out of their illusions with regard to the CFA and drop their illegitimate monopoly over the Nile Waters.

It was in light of the above mutual sentiment that President Sahle-work Zewede has visited the Republic of Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of Burundi in January and February 2021. The leaders of these countries have demonstrated determinations to make beneficial use of the river that enhances livelihoods of the people in riparian countries to better access to electricity, clean drinking water, and food production. It must be insane not to agree and support such noble endeavors in a region where the vast majority of our people suffered for too long due to the inability to utilize water resources at their disposal and within their territories.

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Ethiopia shall prevail!

Currently, Ethiopia is facing multifaceted challenges that test its very survival and sovereignty. The TPLF clique had caused an extreme danger to the very sovereignty of the nation in the past few years and yet, has been crushed by the Ethiopian Defense Forces after it launched an attack on the Northern Command of the nation’s army.  After it lost the Federal power and retreated to Mekelle, TPLF has been doing all kinds of attacks against the Federal government’s reform agendas and the entire people of Ethiopia as retaliation and a desperate attempt to reassume its lost power by overthrowing the Federal government, which is equivalent to a coup.

However, with the successful law enforcement operation; Tigray Defense force constituting the region’s special forces and militias were crushed by the Ethiopian army, their key leaders, such as Sibhat Nega, Abraham Tekeste, Tedros Hagos, and Keria Ibrahim now in custody, while Seyoum Mesfin, Abay Tsehaye, Asmelash Woldesillassie, Zeray Asgedom and many more including their army Generals are neutralized and the rest of few figures are in hideouts. Now, it seems that the danger posed by TPLF to the nation’s sovereignty and survival is over and, indeed, Ethiopia prevailed.

The crushing of the TPLF junta, the terror sponsor and the mastermind behind many of the ethnic and religious-based conflicts in Ethiopia, has also greatly affected the domestic enemies which had created alliances with the junta to destabilize the country and lead the government astray creating undue public pressure. Their power is waning now but as a last-ditch attempt, they have continued their proxy war on the government by unleashing terror in Metekel, the Benishangul Gumuz region. They might continue to commit their atrocities against innocent civilians for a time being but what we can confirm is that they are morning dews soon to vanish with their enabler TPLF removed from the scene.

Apart from the domestic security challenges, the external threat to the country is posed by the belligerence of Sudan, since its army has forcefully controlled some areas around the Ethiopia-Sudan border. On November 6/2020, a few days after the Ethiopian government got busy enforcing law and order in Tigray to Tigray, the Sudanese Armed Forces crossed the border and attacked Ethiopian farmers, killed and wounded many, looted their properties, vandalized their homes and their farmlands, and celebrated the “victory”.   

Sudan’s action is not only deplorable but also violates the 1972 Exchange of Notes made between the two countries agreeing to keep the status quo in the area till the border is re-demarcated amicably upon the agreed-upon mechanisms. This Sudanese Army move seems to have taken advantage of the absence of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces which was preoccupied with the law enforcement campaign. However, Ethiopian’s believe that this is not the intention of the entire leadership of the sisterly country Sudan.

Thus, Instead of military retaliation, the Ethiopian Government, as usual, took a wise position,   pledging to solve the matter peacefully through bilateral discussion with the Government of Sudan. In this regard, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made a bilateral discussion with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok of Sudan on the sidelines of the 38th Extraordinary IGAD meeting held in Djibouti on December 20, 2020.  Besides, two days later, a high-level Ethiopian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Kekonnen had traveled to Khartoum and discussed with the Sudanese leaders on the peaceful resolution of the border conflict between the two nations.

Despite the multifaceted internal and external challenges that Ethiopia is facing today, it is handling all its outstanding regional security matters being committed to its foreign policy that calls for forging fair and mutually beneficial relations with its neighbors. As a manifestation of our deep commitment to peace, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been playing a positive role in mediating disagreements between South Sudanese and Sudanese conflicting parties. He had also held talks with the leaders of Kenya and Somalia to bridge their recently observed differences. In the same manner, Ethiopia will solve the border issue with Sudan as well using its longstanding history of diplomacy and negotiation based on mutual agreement.

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Ethiopia and Israel hold their third political consultation

Ethiopia and Israel held a fruitful and productive political consultation virtually on February 15, 2021, reaching a common understanding to intensify their long-standing and historical relations in bilateral, regional, and multilateral fields. The Political Consultation was held on a special occasion to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of the opening of the Ethiopian Embassy in Israel with the spirit of the 3000 years of historical friendship and partnership.

The Ethiopian delegation was headed by Ambassador Woinshet Tadesse, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The Israeli delegation was led by Ambassador Alon Ushbiz, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel.

The Ambassador of the two countries, Reta Aemu Nega, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Special Envoy of Ethiopia to Israel, Raphael Morav, Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Shamebo Fitamo, Director-General of the Middle East Affairs at the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, Aliza Bin-Noun, Deputy Director General of the African Department at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Eynat Schlein, Head of MASHAV and Deputy Director General at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Directors from the Ethiopian and Israeli Foreign Ministries as well as diplomats from the Ethiopian and Israeli Embassies also participated at the political consultation.

Leading the Ethiopian delegation, Ambassador Woinshet Tadesse, the Permanent Secretary of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that despite the constraints due to the pandemic, holding the Third Ethiopian-Israel Political Consultation demonstrated the commitment of the two countries to further strengthen the long-standing historical relations. She added that the dialogue on bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual concern would contribute to further consolidate the existing partnership in political, security, economic and socio-cultural fields as well as people-to-people ties.

Mentioning that the bilateral relations have been strengthened by high-level visits from both sides, including the most recent visit by Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in September 2019, and the agreements signed, the Permanent Secretary stressed the importance of working jointly to fully implement the agreements and gear up the historical ties to a higher level. In this regard, Ambassador Woinshet expressed the commitment and readiness of the Ethiopian government to work together to further enhance economic ties in the trade, investment, and tourism sectors.

The Permanent Secretary thanked the people and government of Israel for their continued friendship and partnership in various fields of development cooperation through MASHAV, which she said demonstrates the excellent bilateral cooperation between the two governments and peoples. In this regard, she expressed appreciation for the MASHAV’s flagship avocado project which contributed to enhance Ethiopian export and facilitated the transfer of agricultural technology. The Permanent Secretary underscored the importance of further consolidating partnerships in areas of agriculture, particularly on arid and semi-arid agriculture, health, including on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and education, science, technology, cybersecurity, and labor issues.

Ambassador Woinshet explained the concrete results and achievements of the comprehensive and coordinated reform measures in political, security, and socio-economic areas, being undertaken by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. In this regard, she briefed the Israeli delegation about the law enforcement operation that was completed successfully in the Tigray region as well as the due process of law in bringing those responsible to face justice. She also said that the current top priority of the Ethiopian government is the delivery of humanitarian aid and that 85 percent of the region is accessible and the government is undertaking rehabilitation and reconstruction works. Mentioning that the Ethiopian government has been working to accelerate aid delivery and access, she reaffirmed that the Ethiopian government is committed to lead and coordinate humanitarian assistance with the UN agencies. After briefing the delegation about the current Ethiopia-Sudan border situation, she stated the commitment of the Ethiopian government in solving the Ethiopia-Sudan Border dispute amicably through dialogue while stressing the importance of returning to the status quo ante.

Ambassador Alon Ushbiz, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel said, “the relations of Israel with Ethiopia are deep, intimate, and special,” adding, “Ethiopia is an essential ally to Israel.” Recalling the high-level visits that strengthened the bilateral ties, Ambassador Allon appreciated the 3000 years of historical relations between the two countries. He added that they are holding the political consultation despite the pandemic constraints which is a manifestation of their commitment to strengthen their relations. He welcomed that Ethiopia is playing a central and strategic role in Africa and beyond. He acknowledged the existing cooperation of the two counties in political and security areas.

Ambassador Alon mentioned that Israel has one of its largest development programs in Ethiopia and expressed the readiness of the Israeli government to further develop its cooperation with Ethiopia in various sectors including peace and security, agriculture, and water. He also emphasized the importance of fully exploiting the huge potential in promoting bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.

Ambassador Alon said that Ethiopia is a close friend of Israel and in that connection; Israel follows the current situations in Ethiopia closely adding that the humanitarian aid efforts of the Ethiopian government are appreciated and he expressed his hope that the Ethiopian government would continue its aid delivery. He also stated that regional problems should be settled peacefully.

Ambassador Alon briefed the Ethiopian delegation about regional development and that the Abraham Accord has brought strategic change and economic cooperation to the Middle East region and beyond. On her part, the Permanent Secretary welcomed the signing of the Abraham Accord and expressed her hope that it would contribute to bringing regional peace, stability, and prosperity.

During the discussion, Ambassador Reta Alemu Nega stated that there have been events and meetings with the Israeli business community to strengthen the economic ties, including enhancing the quality of export items to the Israeli market. He also mentioned that the Embassy has been engaging with the Bête-Israel community to boost people-to-people ties, including by working together on how to preserve the Bete-Israel community in Ethiopia in close collaboration with pertinent institutions.   

Both sides highlighted the contribution of the Beta Israeli Community to further boost the historical ties as a permanent human bond between the two countries. They stated that the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Ethiopian Embassy in Israel with the spirit of 3000 years of a long-standing friendship is a good opportunity to strengthen the present and future relations.

With the positive spirit of friendship, the Ethiopian and Israeli delegations exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual concern and agreed to continue their dialogue to further enhance their cooperation in bilateral, regional, and international issues. Both sides also reached a common understanding to enhance the partnerships in agriculture, science, technology, innovation, and knowledge transfer, health, trade, and investment. They also discussed how to further consolidate cultural and people-to-people ties, including establishing an Ethiopian Cultural Center, renovating Ethiopian religious and historical sites in Israel as well as preserving the heritage of the Bete-Israeli community in Ethiopia.

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Ethiopia-Djibouti Tourism Forum held in Addis Ababa

A three days Ethio-Djibouti tourism forum that aimed at mapping out new ways of cooperation in the sector as well as strengthening the existing partnerships between the two countries was held on February 11-13, 2021, in Addis Ababa. The forum came at a critical juncture when COVID-19 has depressingly affected the sector and the need to rejuvenate the sector appeared second to none.

Ethiopian and Djiboutian Ministers of tourism as well as scores of officials and experts from the respective countries have participated in the forum. During the opening session, Ethiopia’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dr. Hirut Kassaw mentioning the two countries’ profound and long-standing people-to-people relationship along with exemplary economic ties, noted the need to prop up the capacity of the two countries to garner the opportunities from the untapped riches of tourism.

Minister of Urban Planning, Environment, and Tourism of Djibouti, Mohamed Abdoulkader said the complementarity nature of the two countries’ tourism will allow the countries to best integrate efforts to create joint tourism packages.

Discussions on pressing challenges such as visa hurdles, unfavorable bureaucracies, a loophole on capacity building on the service & catering, etc were also raised on the opening session.

The second day saw a business-to-business session at one of the best coffee processing factories; Hadero Coffee Company in Addis.

Aiming at creating linkages and special regional packages, more than 35 participants from Tour Operators’ Association, Travel Agencies, and Hotel Owners of the two countries were in attendance. More than five tour operators from both sides have signed agreements to establish joint packages and partnerships. Trip2Djibouti, Holiday Ethiopia, Aqua diving club, and Daniel & Frey Tours were among them.

The three-day-long forum was concluded with a visit to Entoto and Unity Park where the Djiboutian delegation has commended the Government of Ethiopia, particularly Premier Abiy Ahmed for taking the initiative and accomplishing wonderful projects such as these. The delegation mentioned the massive impact the projects will have in inspiring neighboring countries to emulate better experiences of urban parks, green projects as well as well-preserved historical sites.

The three days forum was dubbed successful in providing an outstanding platform to boost intra-regional tourism. The two sides have agreed to hold the next forum in Djibouti, adding new features and agendas to best exploit the platform.

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