Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry responds to Tigray regional state complaints

Tigray region has been demanding explanation why Chinese delegation was prohibited from travelling to the region. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the problem was in the airport security.

Ethiopia _ Tigray _ Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia _ Chinese delegation
Dr. Abraham Tekeste presenting gift to Chinese delegation. Photo credit : Tigray Communication Bureau

December 23, 2019

As a six-member delegation Shanxi province of China, headed by Vice-Chairman of the province, tries to head to Mekelle last week, they were prohibited by an undisclosed senior Federal government official. The delegation was heading to Tigray region to, according to Tigray regional state; hold a discussion on “bilateral relations” and investment in the areas of education and mining development.

Apart from the prohibition, the manner in which it happened has angered TPLF officials. Chinese province delegates were already on board of Mekelle bound Ethiopian Airlines Plane but they were pulled from the flight by security officials. Tigray region senior government officials who were awaiting them at Alula Abanega Airport in Mekelle learned something was not right after.

As it turns out, the guests were old that Tigray region authorities could fly to Addis Ababa.

Dr. Abraham Tekesete, one of the region’s top authorities working in the capacity of the region’s trade and investment office head, had no option but to fly to Addis Ababa to meet with Chinese delegates.

On December 21 Tigray regional state demanded, apparently for a second time, an explanation as to why the guests from China were not allowed to travel to Tigray. The regional state framed the action, as communicated through the region’s communication affairs bureau, as “inappropriate action that would hamper investment and related development” in Tigray.  It also went to the extent of claiming that it is an action that would harm “people to people relation.”

 Today, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry has responded to Tigray’s demand.

DW Amharic service spoke to Authorities within the ministry, according to a report it published on Monday, December 23, 2019. And one of the questions posed to them was whether the Chinese delegation had the recognition of the Federal government to come to Ethiopia for a visit and if they met the requirement.

State Minister in the Ministry, Markos Tekle, and confirmed that the delegation came to Ethiopia after meeting all the legal procedures. He also mentioned that there was correspondence between the Asia-Pacific affairs department and the Ethiopian Embassy in Beijing months before the visit, as reported by DW Amharic.

Markos also confirmed that the delegates were prohibited from traveling to the Tigray region of Ethiopia but said that it happened without the knowledge of his ministry.

He said the incident happened due to an apparent communication gap between Airport Security units. “We will investigate the matter in cooperation with Airport security officials and other relevant bodies,” Markos is cited as saying.

Until the problem was sorted out, the Ministry discharged its responsibility by “arranging for Tigray region’s trade and investment head, Dr. Abraham Tekeste, to come to Addis Ababa, and sign the memorandum of understanding [with the Chinese delegation],” said the ministry.

Tigray region authorities accuse Federal authorities of putting pressure on Tigray due to political differences. And they frame it as an action calculated to jeopardize Tigray region economically.

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