Deputy PM holds talks with newly appointed U.S. Special Envoy to Horn of Africa 

ADDIS ABABA – Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, has held talks with the newly appointed United States Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, Michael Hammer.

The discussion took place on Friday with Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ambassador Tracey Jacobson, and Ethiopia’s Ambassador in the US, Sileshi Bekele (Ph.D.), in attendance.

“They discussed a wide range of issues, including the humanitarian supply to conflict-affected areas in the Northern part of Ethiopia, measures taken to ensure accountability for abuses committed during the conflict, and the AU-led peacebuilding initiatives and trilateral negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in a statement issued after the meeting.

Discussing the humanitarian supply issue, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister mentioned the government’s demonstrated commitment to creating unfettered access to humanitarian partners to Tigray, recalling his recent visit to Afar to check the process at Serdo and Semera Checkpoints.

He also urged humanitarian partners to extend support to the people of Amhara and Afar who were looted and displaced during the TPLF’s expansion of the conflict into the regions.

According to Mofa, both the Special Envoy and Ambassador Jacobson called the recent flow of Humanitarian supply to the Tigray region phenomenal, mentioning the 1100 aid trucks that entered the region “superseding the estimated requirement and demonstrating the importance of the humanitarian Truce in improving aid access.”  

Addressing the concerns of Hammer on accountability measures, the Deputy PM Demeke recalled Ethiopia’s decision to implement the recommendations of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Joint Investigation report.

In this regard, he mentioned the efforts of the Ethiopian government to bring perpetrators to justice by establishing Inter-Ministerial committee, comprising more than 180 skilled legal experts and law enforcement personnel.

“Although Ethiopia is committed to ensuring accountability for human rights violations in the Tigray region, it has reservations over the UN resolution that establishes a three-member panel of experts to investigate abuses in the conflict,” Demeke said.

He said the resolution fails to consider Ethiopia’s concerns over the investigation’s focus area that omits atrocities of the TPLF in the Amhara and Afar regions and that seems to rerun the already conducted investigation in Tigray duplicating efforts, sidestepping the government’s accountability measures and undermining the institutional independence of the EHRC.

Regarding the peace initiatives of the African Union spearheaded by Olusegun Obasanjo, Demeke reaffirmed the government’s commitment to work closely with the High Representative for the Horn of Africa, to end the conflict peacefully.

The Ethiopian people have seen enough destruction due to the conflict and the Government has no interest to involve in another round of conflict with the Tplf, further calling on the United States to send a clear message to the Tplf to desist from its provocative actions, the Minister said.

US Special envoy Hammer appreciated Demeke for the candid discussion and said his visit to Ethiopia was made to demonstrate that the United States is keen to work with the Ethiopian Government and extend support to peace initiatives, reads MoFA’s statement.

Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the US, Dr. Sileshi highlighted Ethiopia’s interest to resume the AU-led trilateral negotiation over the GERD.

The ambassador also requested the lifting of the US sanction on Ethiopia over the AGOA preferential trade agreement, which is hurting the ordinary people and putting companies out of business.