A Week in the Horn 30.04.2021

News in Brief

Joint Delegation at European Parliament Holds Session on GERD Negotiations

Ethiopian Diaspora in USA and Europe Reaffirm Commitment to Support Ethiopia’s Efforts in all Fronts

Updates on critical issues in the country: based on State Minister Redwan Hussein’s briefing to Ambassadors of Asian Countries in Ethiopia

Africa and the African Union

In a statement issued on Wednesday (April 28) IGAD welcomes the Somali leaders’ consensus to proscribe extension of mandate of the Executive and Parliament. IGAD reiterates the centrality of constructive and inclusive dialogue as an essential prerequisite for comprehensive settlement of all outstanding issues. To this end, IGAD calls upon all stakeholders to move rapidly to conclude the implementation framework of the 17th September Agreement through an inclusive and transparent dialogue that prioritises the popular aspiration of the Somali people for peaceful, inclusive and credible elections without further delay. IGAD strongly urges all Somali leaders to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any actions that will lead to further escalation of violence.

The IGAD Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN)’s Committee of Permanent Secretaries (CPS) convened on 28 April 2021 at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe to deliberate on strengthening regional cooperation in conflict prevention in the IGAD region. The committee that convenes bi-annually comprises Permanent Secretaries of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. The Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) is a specialized unit of IGAD that uses data and analysis for conflict early warning and response towards prevention and mitigation of violent conflicts.

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday (April 25), this year’s upcoming general election will create a golden opportunity to take the general public request “from the streets to the parliament.” According to the premier, this upcoming general election is the key to solve Ethiopia’s long-standing knots. The premier added that Ethiopia had passed in many courses of political change to transit to democracy. However, since the December uprising and the popular student moment, the political demand of the country’s people have been mainly reflected in street violence both by weapons.

Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen and Head of the Secretariat of Russia-Africa Partnership and Ambassador-at-large Oleg Ozerov held discussion about the Second Russia-Africa Summit on Friday (April 23). On the occasion, the two sides discussed preparations for the Second Russia-Africa Summit which will be held in 2022 in Africa,

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonnen held discussions with Regional Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for East Africa, Marcel Akpovo on Wednesday (April 28). Demeke appreciated Marcel for the readiness of his office to support Ethiopia’s efforts in strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. He also commended the recent joint agreement of the UN and EHRC to conduct joint investigations into human rights abuses allegedly committed in the Tigray region. In this regard, Demeke said the Ethiopian government is committed to bringing perpetrators to justice based on the findings of the joint investigation.

Ambassador Hirut Zemene, Ethiopia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Belgium, Luxembourg, and EU Institutions, took part in an exchange of views on the GERD negotiations at the Joint meeting of the Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries and Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly at the European Parliament on Thursday (April 22). The joint committee meeting made an exchange of views on the trilateral negotiations over the GERD which brought together MEPs from the joint committees, independent experts, EU officials, and the Ambassadors of the three countries, among others. (See article)

In his weekly media briefing on Tuesday (April 27), the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Dina Mufti said “the latest statement of the UN Security Council (UNSC) has acknowledged Ethiopia’s effort at relief supplies and appreciated the joint cooperation to investigate the alleged human rights violation in the country. According to him, the Security Council has acknowledged Ethiopia’s effort at relief supplies and they also appreciated the joint cooperation between human rights commission of Ethiopia, the UN Human Rights Commission and the African Union to work closely so as to investigate the alleged human rights violation in the country.

State Minister Redwan Hussien has updated on Thursday (April 29) Ambassadors of Asian countries residing in Ethiopia on the current situations in Tigray, particularly on the progress on the humanitarian aid efforts,  the negotiations over the Grand Renaissance Dam, the Ethiopia-Sudan border dispute, and the upcoming 6th national election. (See article)

Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister, Sileshi Bekele on Sunday (April 25) called for Ethiopian Diaspora support to complete the construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Ethiopian embassy in Canada in collaboration with Alliance for GERD in Canada held a webinar discussion under the theme “Updates on GERD and Information Session on GERD Bond Purchase”.

Ethiopian Diaspora Agency has concluded the over two week’s diaspora outreach programs held in eight different places in the US and Europe successfully. The events were held in Washington, New York, Minnesota, Seattle, Los Angeles, Berlin, Frankfurt and Geneva. (See article)

The Ethiopian diaspora in Milan, Italy, have held a rally on Wednesday (April 28) in support of the Government of Ethiopia and condemning the efforts to compromise the country’s sovereignty and tarnish its image. Participants of the rally condemned the unsubstantiated media reports related to the law enforcement operation and its objectives in Tigray region.

Eritrea

Eritrea issued a statement at the 68th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). In the statement Eritrea has stated the detrimental effect of the Covid 19 pandemic on the pace of progress in achieving developmental goals, and it also condemned the allegations leveled by the TPLF clique and Eritrea’s arch-enemies highlighting the defamatory portrayal of sexual violence, looting, and crimes by the Eritrean army in the pretext of Ethiopia’s rule of law operations in the Tigray region of Ethiopia as baseless.

Somalia

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed called early on Wednesday (April 28) for elections and a return to dialogue after the extension of his mandate by two years provoked three days of clashes in Mogadishu between rival factions of the security forces. The president said he would appear before parliament on Saturday to “gain their endorsement for the electoral process”, calling on political actors to hold “urgent discussions” on how to conduct the vote.

South Sudan

Ethiopia’s ambassador to South Sudan, Nebil Mahadi, and South Sudan Defense and Veteran Affairs Minister Angelina Teny on Saturday (April 24) held discussions on the bilateral and regional issues of common concern. Ambassador Nebil underscored Ethiopia’s unwavering commitment to the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement and the overall peace and prosperity of the people of South Sudan.

Sudan

The Sudanese cabinet on Tuesday (April. 27) approved the ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In a statement released after its weekly meeting, the Council of Minister announced the approval of the CEDAW and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). The statement said the government entered reservations to the article 2, 16 and 29/1 without further details. The text is expected to be formally ratified by the joint meeting of the Sovereign Council and the cabinet in the coming days.

U.S.A calls to set up Abyei joint administration. The United States called on Sudan and South Sudan to implement the 2011 agreement and to form a joint administration in Abyei until an agreement on its final status is reached. The United Nations Security Council was briefed on Monday (April 26) about the situation in Abyei and the consultations on the exit of the UN Interim Force in Abyei (UNISFA) which has been deployed in the border region since 2011.

Maryam Al-Mahdi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, is visiting a number of African countries to explain Sudan’s position on the process of filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday (April 26) that the visit will include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

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Joint Delegation at European Parliament Holds Session on GERD Negotiations

Ambassador Hirut Zemene, Ethiopia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Belgium, Luxembourg, and EU Institutions, took part in an exchange of views on the GERD negotiations at the Joint meeting of the Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries and Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly at the European Parliament on Thursday (April 22). The joint committee meeting made an exchange of views on the trilateral negotiations over the GERD which brought together MEPs from the joint committees, independent experts, EU officials, and the Ambassadors of the three countries, among others.

Dr. Dan Smith from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Hafsa Halawa from Middle East Institute, and Ambassador Alexander Rondos, EU Special Representative to the Horn of Africa shared their views on the technical, hydro-political, and geopolitical contexts that underpin the trilateral negotiations on the GERD and the way forward. The shared view in the exchange of ideas was that the Nile Basin requires a shared Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, and that there’s a need for a new institutional architecture for managing regional water resources not just in the North Eastern Africa but also beyond that.

In her remarks to the joint committee, Ambassador Hirut Zemene reiterated Ethiopia’s consistent and principled position on the utilisation of the waters of the Nile River: the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile waters, and causing of no significant harm. However, Ethiopia does not recognize nor accepts any attempt to impose colonial agreements, nor will it foreclose the interest of its current and future generation over the use of the Nile waters, she said.

With regards to the ongoing negotiations on the GERD, Ambassador Hirut reiterated Ethiopia’s trust in the AU-led negotiations, and its belief that the remaining outstanding issues could and should be sorted out in good-faith and win-win approach. The ambassador also detailed the distance to which Ethiopia has gone to accommodate and address the concerns of both Egypt and the Sudan.

The Ambassador also cautioned attempts to securitise and internationalise the GERD as a matter of regional peace and security. If anything, the Ambassador noted, the GERD is a project of regional cooperation and integration.

The exchange of views session was followed by a Q and A session with the members of the joint committee, for which clarifications and positions were made by the respective experts and Ambassadors.

The event is believed to have contributed to a better understanding among the members of the European Parliament with regard to the nature and progress of the ongoing negotiations on the GERD, the outstanding points thereof, and the challenges and opportunities in managing and utilising the waters of the Nile.

It was also an opportunity to reiterate the importance of respect to international Principles of Sustainability and Complementarity and that Egypt and the Sudan should have confidence in solving African problems with African solutions.

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Ethiopian Diaspora in USA and Europe Reaffirm Commitment to Support Ethiopia’s Efforts in all Fronts

Ethiopian Diaspora Agency has concluded the over two week’s diaspora outreach programs held in eight different places in the US and Europe successfully. The events were held in Washington, New York, Minnesota, Seattle, Los Angeles, Berlin, Frankfurt and Geneva.

As mandated to serve linking the diaspora with the homeland in terms of knowledge, skill and technology transfer; remittance and capital inflow, the Ethiopian Diaspora Agency has been working with the Ethiopian Diaspora across the world. Using 38 Ethiopian missions as its long arms to reach the Ethiopian diaspora, in the past nine months alone, the Agency has mobilized over 3 million USD for GERD; over 4 million USD for COVID-19 prevention; and over 9 million USD for the support of Ethiopian National Defence Forces and displaced citizens. In addition to the financial support, the Ethiopian diaspora has been active in public diplomacy activities defending Ethiopia’s interest from those internal and external forces that are working in a collaborative effort to tarnish Ethiopia’s image.

The outreach programs were held, among other things, to express the government’s gratitude towards the immense support the diaspora has been exerting to realize a strong and an independent country that does not succumb to the whims of others; to strengthen the momentum; and to create a mutual understanding on current issues of national interest.

After the discussions held in the eight places mentioned earlier, the diaspora has reaffirmed its commitment to continue supporting national projects and conducting wide ranging public diplomacy activities; has collected over 90,000 USD in financial supports to GERD. Besides, the establishment of a public diplomacy and advisory council was realized; a mutual understanding on the causes and possible solutions of the current affair of states in Ethiopia was created and the Diasporas’ role as a pacifying factor was underlined.

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Updates on critical issues in the country: based on State Minister Redwan Hussein’s briefing to Ambassadors of Asian Countries in Ethiopia

State Minister Redwan Hussien has updated on Thursday (April 29) Ambassadors of Asian countries residing in Ethiopia on the current situations in Tigray, particularly on the progress on the humanitarian aid efforts,  the negotiations over the Grand Renaissance Dam, the Ethiopia-Sudan border dispute, and the upcoming 6th national election.

Although a lot of progress has been registered, particularly with regards to the delivery of humanitarian aid, some challenges remain to be dealt with to ensure lasting peace in Tigray, he said. The humanitarian support from the international community still is not satisfactory; he said reiterating that the government of Ethiopia is providing the 70% of the food-item delivery to affected people while outside support on non-food items is embarrassingly law.

Recalling the outcry to expand access to the region which was limited to covering 75% of Tigray, he said the problem is now fully solved where all of Tigray is totally accessible. But he said total access to the area does not rule out the existence of some sporadic skirmishes here and there which necessitate a military escort to deliver humanitarian aid in some of these areas.

The government is redeploying regional police forces in cooperation with the interim government in Tigray and preparations are underway to establish community policing to protect citizens from looters and criminals, he said. Preparations for inclusive dialogue are also underway to fully return the region into normalcy, he said. In this regard, the Ambassador said the government of Ethiopia is training the youth in Tigray in facilitating such communications in addition to creating awareness to elders in the region on the importance of the issue to fully return the region into normalcy.

His briefing also included what the government has been doing to alleviate the problems of IDPs, especially in avoiding the impending danger on the lives of people if the rainy seasons are skipped without farming. In this regard, he said, the government is providing farmers with seeds and fertilizers. The government is assisting farmers in giving debt relief and providing the opportunity to internally displaced people to return to their households out of their own volition.

He also spoke about the modalities that the government has prepared to respond to requests for visa extension and access to communication facilities for aid workers operating in the region. In this regard, the government has prepared guidelines on how to access the communication facilities that may help aid workers better operate in the region.

Appreciating the recent agreement between the UN and EHRC (Ethiopian Human Rights Commission) to jointly investigate alleged human rights violations in the region, Ambassador Redwan said the government has been urging the institutions to expedite the process so that the government can bring the perpetrators to justice. Securing the region from outlaws and criminals and rebuilding destroyed infrastructure are the main tasks that the government is preoccupied with lately, he said.

On the GERD negotiations, Ambassador Redwan walked the diplomats through the major reasons that stalled the talks which are attributable to the irrational claims of Egypt and the self-defeating moves of Sudan. He said the international community should understand that all of the concerns of Sudan have been adequately addressed while Egypt has continued to project its irrational claims of protecting the colonial-era treaties by window-dressing the claim through various names and demands. In this regard, he said Ethiopia hopes the AU-led process will lead to a win-win solution that takes into account the country’s refusal to sign an agreement that forecloses the rights of its future generations for development.

The State Minister also talked about the Ethiopia-Sudan border dispute underscoring the belligerent attitude of Sudan that threatened to reverse all the positive achievements achieved following the signing of the 1972 Exchange of notes between the two countries. According to the 1972 Exchange of Notes, the two countries have agreed not to employ force to solve border dispute, displace settled people that disrupts the status quo. The Ambassador said the recent invasion of Ethiopian lands by Sudanese troops is a continuation of the attempts made by Sudan whenever it sensed a problem is going on in Ethiopia. They did it when the imperial government was toppled in 1974 and the Derg, the Communist government was ousted by EPRDF forces in 1994 although they were successfully repulsed by the then Ethiopian forces, he said. Ethiopia, under the new political administration, gives priority to peace, and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours and does not wish to waste the opportunity for cooperation through engaging in border conflicts, he said. He said the two countries should employ existing conflict resolution mechanisms to get a resolve to the dispute and urged the international community to tell Sudan to evacuate its troops from occupied Ethiopian territories.

Speaking about the upcoming general elections, he said the government has shown its commitment to making it fair and free which can be witnessed by the appointment of a former opposition figure as head of the NEBE who has ensured the organizations’ institutional independence. Given the new arrangement with the Election Board, some hiccups observed in the registration process are part of the expected challenges. The corrective measures taken in this regard have witnessed a huge registration of voters in the last couple of days, he said.

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