In what appears to be a move to deepen diplomatic ties in with countries in the region, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met with leaders from three countries in a span of less than a week
As the war that Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) started in November 2020 escalates, affecting neighboring Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, and international pressure on government mounts, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met three leaders from the region.
Last week, he met with President Salva Kirr of South Sudan in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia places great importance to its relation with South Sudan. In a brief update, Abiy Ahmed shared after meeting with the president, he said “…all-weather friends like South Sudan are essential in our time of need.”
The two countries have also agreed to further strengthen their bilateral relations. Mr. Abiy said he had discussed with President Salva Kiir about boosting economic relations between the two countries through infrastructure development.
On Sunday, he met with Ugandan President Yoweri Musevini and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
A report by Ugandan sources said the discussion between Musevini and Abiy focused on bilateral regional and international issues. Further details are undisclosed. After the meeting, Abiy Ahmed said, “My appreciation to President Museveni for a warm welcome to Uganda and important deliberations on various bilateral and regional issues. I look forward to meeting again soon.”
Ethiopia has also been under international pressure in connection with the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam whose second phase of filling was completed in July this year.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister also travelled to Kigali where he met with President Paul Kagame. The office of the prime minister of Ethiopia has not disclosed details of the meeting. But he himself said that the meeting was over “bilateral and regional issues of mutual significance.”
Foreign policy was one of the reform areas after prime minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in March 2018. Building strong relations with all the neighboring countries including Eritrea, with whom Ethiopia had a “no-peace-no-war” relation for over 20 years, with the aim to promote regional economic integration had been identified as the core objective.
Ethiopia has managed to maintain good relations with the countries in the region, but Sudan. The relationship with Sudan started as a good one. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was even involved in brokering peace following the fall of Omar Hassan Al – Bashir. It did not last.
The conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) revealed that Sudan’s tendency of cooperation and friendliness with Ethiopia was only skin deep. In November 2020, Sudan invaded extensive Ethiopian land after the Ethiopian troops deployed in the region were withdrawn for the law enforcement operation in Tigary.
Also, Sudan developed hostility with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and went to the extent of signing a military agreement with Egypt with the aim to put pressure on Ethiopia to make her sign what the two countries call “binding agreement” before the filling.
There were also signs that Sudan attempted to facilitate support (military and logistical) to the TPLF – which the Ethiopian Parliament designated as a terrorist organization.
Currently, Ethiopia is facing mounting pressure, primarily from the U.S. and European Union, over the war with the TPLF. And there have been repeated attempts to use the United Nations Security Council as a “legal tool” for a sanction region against Ethiopia. However, Russia, China and India rejected foreign intervention on grounds that the matter with TPLF is an internal affair and that Ethiopia has a capability to resolve it.
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