Tigre: Blinken calls for accountability for atrocities to be fixed
In Addis Ababa on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken linked the resumption of a major economic partnership with Ethiopia to “reconciliation and accountability” for the atrocities of the conflict in Tigray.
He also announced $331 million in humanitarian aid to help populations affected by violence and drought.
On a trip to Ethiopia specifically to reconnect with this historic ally whose ties have been warped by the conflict, Mr. Blinken met on Wednesday with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, then with representatives of rebel authorities from the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. Together.
He assured that both sides have pledged to implement the peace accord signed in Pretoria on 2 November, which ended two years of deadly conflict.
“We call on the (belligerent) Ethiopians to honor their mutual promise to build a process of transitional justice” while ensuring “reconciliation and the establishment of responsibilities”, declared the head of US diplomacy.
“To achieve justice, to bring people together, is to ensure that peace prevails (…) and the country begins again”, he insisted.
As Ethiopia moves in this direction, the United States will intensify its efforts towards “economic engagement” with Addis Ababa, visiting the second most populous country in Africa since the outbreak of the war in Tigray. Mr. Blinken, the most senior US official with , in November 2020.
Because of this conflict, according to Washington the theater of crimes against humanity, Ethiopia was in January 2022 excluded from the beneficiaries of AGOA, a US initiative that exempts African countries from export taxes.
Mr. Blinken, on the other hand, announced the release of $331 million “to provide critical assistance to displaced and displaced people affected by conflict, drought and food insecurity in Ethiopia”.
It is “for everyone – not just one group or region”, with Blinken stressing that it was not just for Tigre.
The amount brings U.S. humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia through 2023 to $780 million, according to the State Department.
More than 22 million people, or about a fifth of 120 million Ethiopians, are in need of humanitarian aid because of nationwide violence or drought ravaging the Horn of Ethiopia, according to the United Nations.
In the morning Mr Blinken had outlined the “objectives of strengthening relations between the United States and Ethiopia”: “There is a lot to do. The most important is probably to establish peace in the north”.
“We have old ties and it is time to revive them and move forward,” said his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnen, who is also deputy prime minister.
After a meeting, Mr Abiy said on Twitter that he had agreed with Mr Blinken “to strengthen the age-old bilateral ties between our countries, with a promise of partnership”.
Mr Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner for ending 20 years of open or covert war with neighboring Eritrea, has since the conflict in Tigray become a symbol of a new generation of leaders in Washington’s eyes. ,
Abiy Ahmed sent federal forces to Tigray in November 2020, accusing regional officials who had opposed his power for several months of attacking military bases there.
The region was then led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a party that ruled Ethiopia from 1991 to 2018, which was gradually marginalized by Mr. Abiy.
The conflict spread to the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, whose forces supported the federal army, also supported by the Eritrean army, a historical enemy of the TPLF.
The Pretoria Accords were negotiated and signed under the auspices of the African Union (AU), but according to diplomatic sources, the United States played a key role alongside the belligerents.
The exact toll is difficult to assess, but the United States estimates that around 500,000 people were killed during this conflict, more than since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
If fighting has stopped in Tigray – access to which is still restricted to the press – other Ethiopian regions remain the scene of bloody conflicts, often linked to Mr Abiy’s government’s awakening of identity and land claims.
Blinken’s trip, which will travel to Niger on Thursday, also comes amid efforts by President Joe Biden to counter growing influence on the mainland from China and – most recently – Russia.