The spokesperson of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Dina Mufti, gave the Ministry’s biweekly press briefing today (24 June 2021) to the media. In his presentation, the Ambassador focused on political diplomacy, the 6th general election Economic diplomacy, citizen-centered diplomacy and capacity building activities.
I. Political Diplomacy
- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen paid a working visit to the United Arab Emirates. During his two-day stay, he met with senior government officials of the United Arab Emirates. They discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries in various fields. Following his visit to the UAE, Mr. Demeke has left for Moscow. He had a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Deputy Prime Minister explained the current situation in Ethiopia and agreed with Russia to further strengthen the historical ties between the two countries in various fields.
- High-level government officials have officially inaugurated the establishment of the Center for Public Diplomacy of Higher Education Institutions to enable students and instructors to push agenda items for the success of the Grand Renaissance Dam. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, H.E. Dr. Sileshi Bekele, and Minister of Science and Higher Education H.E. Dr. Samuel Urketo were present at the official establishment of the center. Along with the center, digital software dubbed “Nile Nations”, which is designed to facilitate communication among scholars and students of higher education institutions in the country for the issue of the GERD has also come into operation.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia has issued a statement explaining that the unilateral announcement of ACHPR on establishing a “Commission of Inquiry” will undermine the cooperative spirit and the ongoing efforts of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to formalize the modalities of the investigation in the alleged humanitarian atrocities in Tigray. The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia reiterated its readiness and called upon the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to immediately cease the process it launched which is not acknowledged by Ethiopia and engage with relevant authorities in Ethiopia to finalize the modalities regarding the proposed investigation.
- The Ethiopian government rejects the briefing by the Finnish Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto to the European Parliament on 15 June 2021 in relation to his visits to Ethiopia as a Special Envoy of the European Union. Accordingf to the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the allegations made by Mr.Haavisto in his briefing are clear indications of the underlying desire by the Special Envoy to undermine the Ethiopian government and try to facilitate unwarranted interventions through disinformation and outrageous lies.
- H.E Ambassador Dr.Muktar Kedir presented his letter of credence to H.E General the Honourable David Hurley, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia in a ceremony held at the Government House, in Canberra, on the 23rd of June 2021. At the ceremony, Ambassador Muktar conveyed the warm greetings and best wishes of President Sahile-Work Zewde to the Governor General, the Government and the People of the Commonwealth of Australia.
- The Ethiopian Federal Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs denounced the statement made by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Sheikh of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif of Egypt regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The Mufti, Haji Omar Idris, Head of the Ethiopian Federal Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, said, the waters of the Nile stem from the heart of Ethiopia, noting that Ethiopia has the right to benefit from its natural resources without causing significant harm to the Nile Basin countries in general. This came in a statement made by the Council to the media today (June 17) to refute the statement of Sheikh Al-Azhar on the GERD as the statement did not take into account the rights of the Ethiopian people.
- H.E. Ambassador Shibru Mamo, presented the letter of credentials to H.E. Charles A. Savarin, President of the Commonwealth of Dominica on June 18, 2021. At t6he occasion, Ambassador Shibru stated that Ethiopia considers its collaboration with the Caribbean brothers vital to its overall development efforts and of prime importance in its active engagement in regional and global affairs.
- State Minister H.E. Ambassador Birtukan Ayano, bid farewell to the outgoing Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Sugeeshwara Gunaratna. Ambassador Birtukan appreciated the Sri Lankan ambassador for his unrelenting efforts in boosting bilateral relations between the two countries. Citing the growing trade volume between the two countries, Ambassador Birtukan further appreciated Ambassador Sugeeshwara Gunaratna for encouraging companies from his country to invest more in Ethiopia.The discussion between the two sides also touched upon the opportunities provided by Sri Lankan companies to the Ethiopian economy, some of the observed challenges these companies have been facing, and measures taken in addressing issues in this regard.
- Ambassador Nebil met with South Sudan’s vice president H.E. James WaniIgga (Ph.D.) and exchanged views of common interest.During the meeting, the Ambassador underscored the need to further strengthen the two Nations’ long-standing historic relations by investing in grand projects that aimed at taping their respective potentials.
II. On the 6th General Election
A. The messages of the 6th general elections
- Whoever wins the election, the people of Ethiopia are the ultimate winners. By participating in the elections and withstanding every allegation, and prophecies of pseudo analysts who provided reasons for the failure of the electoral process, people of Ethiopia have shown that they are wise enough to understand that their country stands tall beyond temporary wins for parliamentary seats or the lifespan of a political party.
- The peaceful electoral process proved the doomsday prophecies wrong
- The people of Ethiopia have shown their unwavering commitment to decide in which track the country shall proceed
- The huge voter turnout is a testament to the people of Ethiopia’s commitment to take matters in their own hands. The Ethiopian people have spoken that they need peace.
B. Message of the Prime Minister
- The election date was unique since it was the first time that Ethiopians were able to elect their representatives in absence of fear or undue coercion
- Although we were able to protect our sovereignty for a long-time, we were not able to respect the fact that power emanates from the ballot and not from the bullet- but today we are on the right track in laying a strong foundation for democracy
- Building a democratic system is not a one-time activity but a process and the 6th general elections are significant strides in this regard
- Competing political parties should be thanked for their understanding that elections are not an end by themselves in building a democratic system. Hence their participation in the elections and their participation in the electoral process jointly with other stakeholders in the country is commendable.
- Whoever wins the elections, the fact that the elections have been made in a peaceful and democratic manner has huge implications for our effort to build a democratic system in the country
- NEBE leaders and staffers should be lauded for their unrelenting efforts in building an independent institution that withstood criticisms and was able to provide a credible electoral process
- Media outlets, election observers, civic institutions have also imprinted their fingerprints on the country’s journey to democracy
- Security personnel should also be thanked for making the electoral process peaceful and safe for voters
C. The Elections according to AU observers and EASF
Organized by the African Union (AU), a press conference was addressed yesterday by the Head of the African Union Election Observation Mission to Ethiopia, H.E Olusegun Obasanjo in the presence of the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), H.E. Amb. Bankole Adeoye and other invited guests. Similarly, The Eastern Africa Standby Force Election Observation Mission (EASF EOM) which consists of 26 observers from the EASF Member States namely; Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Seychelles, Uganda, Rwanda and Comoros has held a press conference the day before yesterday announcing preliminary assessment results of the election. Generally, the observers’ statements stated:
- The pre-election and election day processes were conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner
- The election was made following the reforms in Ethiopia that opened the political and civic space which contributed to greater freedoms and the proliferation of political parties and civic organizations, the strengthening of NEBE as an independent institution, the release of political prisoners and the return of exiled political activities
- The electoral legal framework was elaborately done with stakeholder consultations
- It was noted that NEBE enjoys the trust and confidence of stakeholders
- Women’s participation (as candidates and voters) was commendable and additional financial support was granted by the NEBE to encourage women and disabled candidates too
- The civil societies and the media participation in the electoral process was commendable
- International and domestic observers were granted unrestricted access to the polling stations and were allowed to conduct their duties without interference
D. Frequently asked questions regarding the elections
Some corners have voiced concerns over issues that may compromise the electoral process and put the legitimacy of the election results under a question mark. The most prominent issues are the situation in Tigray, some border disputes between some regional states in the country, the fact that some opposition groups are boycotting the elections, and logistic concerns overshadowing the efforts of NEBE.
- The matter regarding the Tigray region has already been settled. Elections in the region will be held once the region is confirmed to be returned to normal life again. Attaching what’s happening in Tigray with the electoral process in the remaining parts of the country is simply naïve.
- Regarding some territorial claims and the disputes that arise thereof between some regional states in the country have alerted the NEBE that the electoral process shall be extended in some of these hotspots until the matter is settled under the decision of pertinent bodies in the country. This was announced way before the commencement of the election date which should not be confused with holding a credible election in other areas of the country.
- The electoral process proved that the competition field was open to all political parties and there was huge voter turnout in all areas where the election took place. In this regard, the decision of a political party/parties to boycott the elections under the pretext of imprisoned members, where the judicial process is handling the case, should not be taken as a barometer to judge the inclusiveness of the electoral process. All individuals, regardless of their public status, are equal before the law and the cases of prominent competing party figures should not be viewed separately from this process.
- NEBE has indeed faced some challenges in logistics, and some areas, for example, in Sidama have to extend the election for the next day due to some logistic concerns. The NEBE was able to overcome all these challenges and run the election smoothly. It was in fact incredible to see the NEBE staffers move swiftly to give quick and decisive responses that came along the way given that the staffers, including Birtukan Mideksa, are new to their posts. Problems associated with logistics are not new either to Ethiopia or to the world for that matter and they could not be taken as a pretext to postpone the election.
III. Citizen-centered diplomacy
- A delegation comprising officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and other relevant government agencies has left for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to discuss the situation of Ethiopian migrants in the country.The delegation will confer with relevant Saudi Arabian officials regarding the protection of the rights of Ethiopian citizens in the country and further facilitate the repatriation process.The discussion between the Ethiopian and Saudi Arabian officials will review the achievements and challenges of repatriating illegal migrants who are willing to return home based on their consent.The close cooperation between the two nations, in this regard, has enabled tens of thousands of Ethiopians to return home safely and in a dignified way, despite the challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic.The visit by the Ethiopian delegation and the outcome of the discussion between the two nations will further strengthen the cooperation between the two countries to efficiently address the problems faced by migrants and expedite the dignified repatriation process.
- Following discussions with the management of Busby Auctioneers and Valuers, an agreement has been reached, on the withdrawal of two Ethiopian artefacts that were due to go to auction on 17th June 2021.The two items – an Ethiopian bible on vellum housed in a sewn leather satchel, together with an Ethiopian cross; and a set of graduated horn beakers – are from the estate of Major-General William Arbuthnot, a serving member of the late 19th-century expedition to Abyssinia, which culminated in the battle of Maqdala.
- Ethiopians, People of Ethiopian origin, Ethiopian Associations, staffers of the Consulate, and religious institutions in Lebanon have collected 595,406.23 Ethiopian birr in response to the government’s call to support displaced people, the rehabilitation efforts in Tigray, including those who need humanitarian support in Ethiopia.
- 1191 Ethiopians were repatriated from Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Somaliland
- Ethiopian Embassy in Tokyo has held talks with Japan’s ITOCHU Corporation on ways to invest in agricultural products in Ethiopia
- Ethiopian Embassy in Algeria has held talks with the Algerian Ministry of Energy and Mining on ways to share experience and cooperate on the renewable energy sector with Ethiopia
- Ethiopian Chefs Association has tabled discussion points with the joint forum established to promote and market Ethiopia’s tourism
V. Capacity Building
The Ethiopian Embassy in Djibouti and the Ethiopian Construction Works Corporation (ECWC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to refurbish a building that had served as the Ethiopian Embassy and Consulate since the second half of the 1960s to 2003 G.C. State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Birtukan Ayano, who was on a working visit to Djibouti, attended the signing ceremony and expressed her belief that the renovation of the building would reflect its historical attachment to Ethiopia and Djibouti besides promoting Ethiopia’s image positively. In related news, the delegation had also paid a visit to the status of the renovation and construction works of the Ethiopian embassy building in Djibouti.