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In its latest weekly report about the Horn of Africa, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign affairs noted that Somaliland President has welcomed the public apology by Somalia’s leader Mohamed Farmajo over atrocities committed by Siyad Barre against the people of Somaliland in the late 1980s.

“President Bihi lauded the move as a special and historic one” the report said.

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The report also mentioned that the two leaders of Somaliland and Somalia held, for the first time, a closed-door meeting in Addis-Ababa, but didn’t give any further details about the meeting and also the rumors circulated about a proposed visit to Hargeisa by Farmajo and Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed.

Here is the full weekly report from the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

A Week In The Horn 21.02.2020

Contents

News in Brief

PM Abiy’s Visit to UAE: a Reflection of Citizen Centered Diplomacy

Secretary Pompeo Visits Ethiopia

Ethiopia Satisfied with 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government

South Sudan on the Eve of Forming a New Pre-transitional Government

Ethiopia Takes Part in the 18th Africa Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition


News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

Director, Africa CDC, Dr. John Nkengasong last week on Friday (February 14) gave a follow-up press briefing to provide updated information to the media on the ongoing Coronavirus disease outbreak. The briefing provided information about the status of the disease and actions taken by the African Union to prevent transmission in Africa. The briefing took place in the African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia

The 8th Edition of the African Land Forces Summit under the theme “Tomorrow’s Security Demands Today’s Leadership” kicked off at the Sheraton Addis Hotel in Addis Ababa. The summit is hosted by the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), co-hosted by the U.S. Army Africa (USARAF). It is being attended by, among other senior military personnel, General Adem Mohammed, Chief of Staff, ENDF, General Michael X. Garret, Commanding General, United States Army Forces Command, as well as David Renz, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S Embassy in Addis Abeba. Some 40 Land Forces Chiefs & Representatives from across the African continent are also in attendance.

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his delegation last week on Thursday (February 13) arrived in Abu Dhabi for an official visit, they were received with a warm welcome by the Foreign Minister Diab Mohammed bin Zayed and other senior leaders. During his stay, the Prime Minister met with senior government officials and a number of Ethiopian community members who reside in UAE and countries of the Middle East. The Prime Minister’s consultations with Ethiopians were fruitful in many ways and reflected the positive fruits of the citizen-centered diplomacy trajectory the country has initiated under its new foreign policy reforms. (See article)

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo arrived in Addis Ababa on Monday (February 17) for an official working visit. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gedu Andargachew, accorded a warm welcome to the Secretary upon his arrival at Bole International Airport. During his visit, Pompeo met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde to discuss joint efforts to promote regional security and to support Ethiopia’s historic political and economic reform agenda. He also met with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and deliver remarks. (See article)

The Ethiopian government and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday (February 17) stressed that joint efforts are well underway to contain a potential novel Coronavirus outbreak in Ethiopia. “Home to one of Africa’s busiest international airline hubs, Ethiopia is bolstering preparedness to contain a potential outbreak of Coronavirus disease, now known as COVID-19,” the WHO said in a statement. Noting that Ethiopian health authorities are tightening up surveillance, diagnosis, epidemic response coordination, and public health education to swiftly detect cases and limit widespread infections, the WHO also stressed that Ethiopia is among 13 African countries that it considers as “top priority for COVID-19 preparedness due to direct links or a high volume of travel to China.”

The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union was held on 9 – 10 February 2020 at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa under the theme of the year: Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development. Ethiopia, though not new to hosting such a high profile Summit, has once again demonstrated its unwavering commitment and capability by discharging its responsibility as host of the African Union. (See article)

Organized by the Ministry of Peace, consultation on how to implement the firearm administration and control law kicked off on Monday (February 17) in Addis Ababa. The consultative meeting brought together stakeholders through the country and development partners. The revised law was approved by the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) last month. During the meeting, it was noted that the need to own a firearm by the people is increasing due to threats posed by various reasons. Moreover illegal weapon trafficking is increasing along the Ethiopian borders due to the instability in South Sudan and Somalia.

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed on Monday (February 17) presided over a meeting about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ministers, members of the GERD negotiating committee, concerned experts, renowned Ethiopians as well as various community members are taking part in the meeting at the Prime Minister’s office. The meeting discussed the direction of upcoming negotiations on the dam, according to the office.

A group of 76 Ethiopian refugees has voluntarily returned home from Kenya’s Kakuma camp on Wednesday (February 19). This marks the first major voluntary repatriation program for Ethiopian refugees in the country. The movement, supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the governments of Ethiopia and Kenya, is part of a growing trend of thousands of Ethiopian refugees in the region who are voluntarily choosing to return to back their country, following recent developments.

Ethiopia took part in the 18th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition held 12-14 February 2020 at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. (See article)

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed met on Thursday (February 20) with Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms. Sigrid Kaag, who came to Ethiopia to handover a ceremonial 18th-century crown. The crown had been missing since 1993 and was rediscovered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in October 2019. The crown was returned home after being hidden in a Dutch flat for 21 years. Ethiopian Sirak Asfaw, who fled to the Netherlands in the late 1970s, discovered the crown in the suitcase of a visitor and realized it was stolen.

Eritrea

President Isaias Afwerki and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz met in Riyadh on Wednesday (February 19) and discussed bilateral relations and comprehensive Red Sea cooperation. In the meeting, President Isaias underlined the profound economic and social transformation underway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is of immense significance. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his part stressed the need to institutionalize the cooperation among the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden countries to better promote peace and security in order to collectively benefit from the huge human and natural resources and opportunities in the region.

Kenya

Safaricom has opened talks with undisclosed investors to form a consortium that will this year bid for one of two Ethiopian telecoms licences due to the high entry costs that are likely to breach the Ksh100 billion ($1 billion) mark. The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm said it was racing to assemble the group of investors ahead of its Ethiopia bid, which is expected in April. Safaricom had last year talked of a joint bid in partnership with South Africa’s Vodacom, which owns a 35 percent stake in the firm. However, sources at the company said that more firms could be involved in the consortium angling for a market that has attracted the interest of global telecommunication firms, including Vodafone, which owns five percent of Safaricom.

Somaliland

Somaliland President Muse Bihi has welcomed public apology by President Mohamed Farmajo over atrocities committed by Siyad Barre. President Bihi lauded the move as a special and historic one. The announcement by Farmajo last week on February 13 is among the latest moves that has seen rapprochement between the two. Last week, the two held, for the first time, a closed-door meeting in Addis-Ababa.

Somalia

A total of three hundred Darwish trainees of the Somali Police Force on Monday (February 17) have graduated at the General Kahiye Police Training Academy in Mogadishu after completing a month-long specialized training. The trainees were first trained in Djibouti for three months before undergoing a refresher programme at the police academy in January 2020. They are the first batch of 1,750 Darwish forces to be trained to secure population centers in liberated areas and newly liberated areas of Lower Shabelle region.

Al-Shabaab operative has reportedly surrendered to authorities on Tuesday (February 18) in Hudur town. Hudur is a strategic town located in the south Western Bakool region of Somalia. It serves as the province’s capital and is the center of the Hudur District. The terror operative identified as Olad Abdirahman Herow confessed to having been fighting alongside the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab for more than ten years.

The Federal Government of Somalia has dismissed an Amnesty International report highlighting increased cases of journalists getting harassed and killed while on duty in the country. The report, “We live in perpetual fear: Violations and abuses of freedom of expression in Somalia”, was released in Nairobi last week on Thursday. According to the report, the surge in violent attacks, harassment, and intimidation is deeply entrenched in the country, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist.

The U.S. Embassy Mogadishu strongly condemns the February 16 killing of Somali journalist Abduwali Ali Hassan in the town of Afgoye in the Lower Shabelle region. Abduwali was a freelance journalist working for Radio Kulmiye and Universal TV. The United States extends sincere condolences to his wife and children, friends, and colleagues. By targeting and killing media workers whose job it is to educate and inform Somalis, Al Shabaab is bent on silencing the voices of Somali people. We salute the tremendous work that Somali journalists do, and recognize the risk and difficulty in their work environment.

South Sudan

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar have agreed to form a unity government. This latest development follows a meeting at State House in the capital, Juba, on Thursday (February 20). President Kiir has promised protection for opposition leaders. Mr. Machar’s allies had sought assurances about his safety should he formally return to the capital. Mr. Kiir said the key issues which have not been resolved, such as how he and Mr. Machar would share the power and how opposing forces will be unified, are set to be addressed and finalized in the coming days. Mr. Machar has agreed to take up his former position as vice-president and the current cabinet will be dissolved to make way for more opposition members. There are expectations the deal will bring an end to South Sudan’s devastating six-year civil war.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Saturday evening (February 15) dismissed the governors of the 32 states paving the way for the reconfiguration of the country in 10 states, as the main peace partners voiced concern over the creation of Ruweng Area. The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Wais, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, the African Union Peace and Security Council welcomed the decision. (See article)

About 6.5 million South Sudanese are facing severe food shortage said three UN organizations ahead of the formation of the revitalized transitional government. Some 6.5 m people representing more than half of the population “could be in acute food insecurity at the height of this hunger season (May-July), three United Nations agencies warned today,” said the FAO, UNICEF and WFP and the South Sudanese government in a joint report on Thursday (February 20).

South Sudan government on Tuesday (February 20) recalled 43 diplomats serving in its foreign missions for overstaying. The government said in a letter directing their immediate return to the country that the diplomats have until the end of March to report back to the ministry of foreign affairs in Juba. It said the diplomats had “overstayed” their tour of duties.

Sudan

Sudanese and South Sudanese military officials on Wednesday (February 19) in Juba signed a protocol on the deployment of checkpoints for weapons checkpoints on the two sides of the borders. The agreement was discussed by two sides after the revenge attack in Kolom area of Abyei by Misseriya gunmen who killed 35 Ngok Dinka on 21 January. The agreement was signed by the Chiefs of Staff of the two armies Lt Gen Mohamed Osman al-Hussein, and Lt Gen Gabriel Jok Riak in the presence of members of the UNISFA head, at the end of a two-day meeting in Juba.

Israel says it has begun flying commercial aircraft through Sudanese airspace under an agreement with the Khartoum government. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Monday (February 17) told a group of visiting US Jewish leaders that the first Israeli plane crossed Sudan on Saturday, bound for South America. He said the new air corridor would cut the flying time on the route by three hours. Sudan said in early February that it had given initial approval for Israeli planes to fly over its territory.

Sudanese army on Monday (February 17) has retired some 79 military officers from the medium and junior ranks. In a statement released on Tuesday, the army spokesman Amer Mohamed al-Hassan said the retirees’ list has been done with high professionalism”

The negotiating delegations of the government and Darfur groups participating in peace talks in Juba on Tuesday (February 18) agreed to form a joint committee to address the lack of diversity of national civil service institutions. Despite Hamdok’s efforts to form a government reflecting the diversity of the Sudanese population in terms of gender, sexuality, disability, and ethnicity, the armed groups say Darfurians have been underrepresented. Following the extension of the ongoing negotiations for three weeks, on Monday, the parties entered into negotiations on the power-sharing, structures of the federal government, and the relationship between the center and the regions.

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PM Abiy’s Visit to UAE: a Reflection of Citizen Centered Diplomacy

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his delegation last week on Thursday (February 13) arrived in Abu Dhabi for an official visit, they were received with a warm welcome by the Foreign Minister Diab Mohammed bin Zayed and senior leaders. During his stay, the Prime Minister met with senior government officials and a number of Ethiopian community members who reside in UAE and countries of the Middle East. The Prime Minister’s consultations with Ethiopians were fruitful in many ways and reflected the positive fruits of the citizen-centered diplomacy trajectory the country has initiated under its new foreign policy reforms.

In his talks with the UAE senior government officials, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has reached an agreement with the government of the UAE to legalize irregular migrants to obtain residence and work permits, as well as amnesty to be granted to Ethiopians who have been imprisoned. The request for school construction from the Ethiopian community, as well as the request of Protestant Christians to have a place of worship and prayer, has also been agreed to. The Premier’s discussion with the UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum resulted in the latter’s promise to consult with the responsible officials regarding work permit for Ethiopians, access for land to build schools and worship institutions as well as other matters related to the Ethiopian Diaspora. One of the outcomes of the meeting was granting the Ethiopian Orthodox Church land to build a place of worship in Abu Dhabi.

Shortly after visiting the site of Dubai Expo 2020 preparations, the Prime Minister office announced that Ethiopia was able to secure a key spot in the Expo which demonstrates significant attention given to Ethiopia’s participation. It has also been agreed that ten thousand young Ethiopians will take part in the construction of the Dubai Expo.

The Prime Minister also met with about 15,000 members of the Ethiopian Diaspora residing in the Middle East countries on Friday (February 18) in Shabab Alahli Stadium in Dubai. In his remarks, Prime Minister Abiy said: “I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with the Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.A and Europe. I did the same with the Ethiopian Diaspora living in South Africa a few weeks ago. I am happy, beyond measures, to be able to meet with Ethiopians living in the Middle East countries. All of you Ethiopians and of Ethiopian descent, have come here to labour in any field possible and change your lives and that of your people. The tribulation and pain you endured due to this is an unwritten and amazing book. The contribution you are making for your country while passing through challenges should be told in a unique manner. Your government has signed bilateral agreements with the governments of Middle East countries so that you work with dignity and with your labour rights protected. Your government understands that Ethiopia is respected when you are respected. Therefore, we will strive to do everything to protect your rights and dignity. I have sincere respect for your patience and beautiful organization to receive me in a warm welcome and express your love.”

Prior to the meeting in the Stadium, the Premier had consultations with Ethiopian women who ended up in shelters from Jeddah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Jazan, Bahrain, Riyadh and other cities due to unfortunate circumstances and violence. Ethiopian women who have become successful in their lives in Middle East countries have also shared their experiences. Senior government officials facilitated the detailed discussion session. Prime Minister Abiy expressed his sadness about the situation some women are undergoing to irregular migration and violence by employers and traffickers. He promised to find a lasting solution in consultation with the governments of the Middle East countries. He said that a consulate will open to closely follow up on the status of migrants in Bahrain and consultations will be held to enable the migrants to obtain a residence permit. The government of Ethiopia will work to return the irregular migrants whose condition does not allow getting a residence permit, he added.

The participants of the discussion underlined that it is traffickers who expose migrants to harm and trouble. They added, they will be part of the solution by working with the governments of the Middle East countries in providing accurate information and evidence to expose traffickers. Amnesty was granted to Ethiopian citizens who were in prison and shelters and those who entered the UAE through irregular migration. Those who preferred to reside in UAE were given residence permits while about 137 Ethiopian immigrants who decided to return to their country flew to Ethiopia with the Prime Minister.

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Secretary Pompeo Visits Ethiopia

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo had been in Addis Ababa for a three-day official visit. He arrived at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa on Monday (February 17) and received a warm welcome by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Gedu Andargachew. During his stay, he has met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President Sahle-Work Zewde and the Foreign Minister Gedu and discussed joint efforts to promote regional security and to support Ethiopia’s historic political and economic reform agenda.

During the meeting of the two foreign Affairs Ministers on Tuesday (February 18), Gedu appreciated the United States’ comprehensive support for Ethiopia. He thanked President Donald Trump and the United States Government for efforts to help Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt make a fair and equitable deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Regarding the economic situation in Ethiopia, Gedu said his country is undertaking a huge economic reform taking the indispensable role of the private sector into account. He reiterated the importance of creating jobs to the country’s youth that covers a significant number of the Ethiopian population. Gedu also spoke about Ethiopia’s efforts to maintain peace and security in the region, particularly on the ongoing efforts to fight Al-Shabaab in Somalia, and the joint efforts with the neighboring countries to achieve lasting peace in South Sudan.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hailed Ethiopia’s key role in peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities in the region. He expressed his country’s commitment to support the ongoing economic reform in Ethiopia and hoped that a positive change will be registered in Ethiopia’s economy. In a press briefing given after the discussion between the two Ministers, Pompeo told the media that the great thing [about the reforms] is that they’re being powered by the Ethiopian people and not imposed by external forces. Regarding the ongoing discussions on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Secretary Pompeo expressed his belief that the three countries would resolve sticky issues and conclude discussions over the dam with fruitful results. He told the media, “Many of the elements of an agreement are now moving closer to finality, but there’s still work that remains.”

The secretary has also met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and during their discussion, they raised a number of bilateral and regional issues. In addition to strengthening relations between their two countries, they explored in detail the ongoing holistic reform taking place in Ethiopia. They also focused on areas of interest for further cooperation including ways of ensuring sustainable peace and security in the Horn of Africa. An agreement has been reached regarding the strengthening of the holistic and ongoing reform in Ethiopia to which the United States Government plans to provide substantial financial support.

In her discussion with the Secretary, President Sahle-Work Zewde expressed that Ethiopia is committed to further cooperation with the United States in the areas of business and diplomacy and invited American investors to consider investing in Ethiopia. He tweeted, “Grateful for the opportunity to convey our deep appreciation for the strong cooperation between the U.S. and Ethiopia to President Sahle-Work Zewde today. I’m happy to acknowledge her strong leadership in advancing landmark political reforms and promoting women’s empowerment.”

The secretary has met with religious leaders. He also delivered a speech entitled, “Liberating Africa’s Entrepreneurs” at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa addressing entrepreneurs in Africa, in particular Women. In responding to the question forwarded from attendees on his rationale behind choosing to visit the three African countries including Ethiopia, he said: “The three countries I chose were all at unique moments in their own development history, very different, different cultures, different parts of Africa, different histories.  But in each case, too, with real leaders who are prepared to do the right things to help their countries move forward.  And when I say “real leaders,” that certainly includes political leaders, but it’s broader and deeper than that.  It’s the wellspring of the population who’s demanding these changes, these transformations.  Whether that’s in Senegal or Angola or here, I can see it, I can feel it, I can hear it.”

Secretary Pompeo concluded his visit on Wednesday and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Gedu Andargachew bade farewell to the Secretary at Bole International Airport. During his stay in the country, the Secretary had also held discussions with Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission and other senior Ethiopian Government officials.

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Ethiopia Satisfied with 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government

The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union was held on 9 – 10 February 2020 at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa under the theme of the year: Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development. The designation of Silencing the Guns in Africa as the theme of the Union for 2020 is significant for Ethiopia in light of its devotion to collective security and regional peace and stability both at the United Nations and the African Union.

Ethiopia, though not new to hosting such a high profile Summit, has once again demonstrated its unwavering commitment and capability by discharging its responsibility as host of the African Union. The preparation for the meeting was kicked off several months ago by setting up a National Steering Committee involving all pertinent government institutions and representatives of the private sector from the service industry. The Summit was held without any security incident and the City’s residents, as usual, were hospitable and cooperative in contributing their part towards the success of the Summit. It is on the record that more than fourteen thousand accredited participants took part in statutory as well as side meetings.

The year 2019 has been particularly significant for the African Union in terms of its institutional reform agenda. In this regard, the restructuring of the Commission and some of the key agencies of the Union, the progress made in financing the Union, establishing a more effective division of labor between the AU and Regional Economic Communities and strengthening of the AU recruitment system are worth mentioning. These are achievements that need to be further enhanced in the coming months and years. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a major milestone as it has the potential to transform intra–Africa trade and bring about economic development while facilitating regional integration. In this respect, it is worth noting that Ethiopia, together with the five other countries (Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar,  Sudan), has played a positive role in removing earlier reservation entered by these countries on the timeline for tariff liberalization. This was a compromise in the interest of forging together towards Continental integration.

The Assembly also endorsed the proposal made by Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed to host an African Expo in Addis Ababa featuring African products in energy, infrastructures, ICT, tourism and other sectors. In his intervention at the Summit, the Prime Minister underlined that all goods and services to be displayed at the proposed Expo would be products made in Africa in accordance with AfCFTA.

Prime Minister Abiy, as a Champion for the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) also presented a report to the Assembly on the progress made during 2017 and 2018. This was based on the implementation of the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods in the Continent.

Furthermore, Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, made remarks at The Agenda 2063 High-Level Forum attended by among others, the incoming and outgoing Chairs of the African Union, The Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary General of the UN. In her remarks. President Sahle-Work Zewde highlighted that Ethiopia has been implementing the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 by mainstreaming it into its national development plan. Ethiopia has also been among the ten African countries that have presented a progress report on the implementation of Agenda 2063.

The Headquarters of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) was inaugurated on 9th February 2020 as a side event of the Assembly of the African Union. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, gave remarks on the occasion which was attended by several leaders. It is to be recalled that the CISSA headquarters was built on land donated by Ethiopia adjacent to the African Union Headquarters with financial support from Equatorial Guinea.

Gedu Andargachew, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia also made a statement on the AU Theme of the Year for 2020, Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development. The Foreign Minister stressed that this year’s theme is timely and appropriate. He underlined that Africa should continue to uphold the theme until we achieve peace in our continent.

On another development, Ethiopia has been elected as a member of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union for a two-year term. Ethiopia will contribute substantively in light of its recent experience as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It should also be noted that Ethiopia is a leading contributor of peacekeepers both to the UN and AU peace support operations. The Panel of Eminent Africans to oversee the pre-election of candidatures for the Senior Leadership of the African Union Commission has also been formed. This Panel is composed of members from each of the five regions of Africa. Ethiopia was given the privilege to represent the Eastern African region in the person of Ambassador Kongit Sinegiorgis. Additionally, two senior Ethiopian human rights experts have also been endorsed as Africa’s candidates for positions to be filled through elections in the United Nations system.

In a nutshell, the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union was a success for the African Union and for host Ethiopia. It is believed that the decisions taken by the Assembly on a range of issues would further strengthen our continental organization and help repositioning it to be fit for purpose to deliver on Africa’s aspirations as articulated in Agenda 2063. Ethiopia, as usual would continue to promote and protect the interests of Africa in its engagements within the continent and beyond. Diligent implementation of the decisions and declarations of the Assembly of the Union by all concerned stakeholders will be critical for a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa.

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South Sudan on the Eve of Forming a New Pre-transitional Government

South Sudan’s minister of information and broadcasting said on Wednesday (February 19) that the much-awaited revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) will be formed by February 22. The Entebbe agreement that extended the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government in South Sudan to February 22, 2020, was followed by a number of negotiations to get resolve outstanding issues in the South Sudan Peace Process. The Troika, IGAD and other concerned bodies have been serious in voicing the need to establish the transitional Government on the stated day.

Although some sticky issues are yet to be resolved, one of the obstacles in the peace process- the number of states in South Sudan- seems to have been removed from the scene when President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced his decision to revert back to 10 states and with a new arrangement of three administrative areas- Abyei, Pibor, and Ruweng. Although Dr. Riek Machar Teny raised some concerns on the soundness of forming some of these new administrative regions, he has also accepted the announcement hoping to resolve issues once the R-TGoNU is formed. President Salva Kiir’s move has largely received acclamations from various stakeholders in the South Sudanese Peace Process.

AU through PSC (Peace and Security Council) called the move “courageous and progressive” while the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ambassador Dr. Ismail Wais, in a statement issued on Monday welcomed the decision saying, “This is pivotal for the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) and our quest for lasting peace in the Republic of South Sudan. I congratulate the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Government of South Sudan for taking a bold decision for the sake of the country.” He also called on the Parties to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) to form the R-TGoNU at the end of the one hundred days extension. He also urged the Parties to work together in good faith and spirit of compromise in the few days left before the end of the one hundred days for the sake of peace in South Sudan.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok on Monday (February 17) welcomed the decision. In his statement on behalf of the Sudanese government, Hamdok said: “Sudan welcomes this great step in the peace process of the sisterly State of South Sudan”. “We hope that the parties to the revitalized peace agreement will constructively work to build the institutions of the state of citizenship, justice and the rule of law, by forming the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity by the February 22 deadline”

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) undertook a field mission to the Republic of South Sudan from 18 to 20 February 2020, a statement issued by PSC indicated. The Mission was aimed at expressing AU’s solidarity People and Government of South Sudan and evaluating the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan before a new transitional government is formed on the upcoming Saturday.

According to the statement, the Delegation has met with the 1st Vice President of South Sudan, Taban Deng Gai and Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Chairman of the SPLM-IO and the First Vice President-Designate and other regional and Internationals stakeholders. The Delegation underscored that the formation of an inclusive Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) is a pre-requisite for lasting unity, peace, stability and development in South Sudan.

The PSC delegation commended President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Government for the courageous and progressive decision to revert the country back to the original ten (10) States, and further noted that such a political compromise has restored the confidence of all stakeholders to the peace process. The PSC also welcomed the reassurance by Dr. Riek Machar Teny to work with the Government, noting that the issue of States has been resolved and that he agreed to address other outstanding issues during the Transitional Period, including the security arrangements. The Delegation noted that the formation of the R-TGoNU is only the start of a long nation-building process, and thus called on the parties to remain resolute, guided by the principles of compromise and restraint.

The mission called on the international community to sustain its valuable support to all aspects of the peace process in order to prevent a relapse to conflict, and possible devastating consequences on innocent civilians. The PSC Delegation reiterated the AU’s appreciation towards IGAD, the neighboring countries of South Sudan, UNMISS, R-JMEC, and international partners, for their relentless efforts towards assisting the parties’ efforts to restore peace, security, stability, and development in South Sudan.

The PSC delegation, comprising representatives of the fifteen Member States was led by His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Idriss Farah, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti to the African Union, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of February 2020.

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Ethiopia Takes Part in the 18th Africa Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition

Ethiopia took part in the 18th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition held 12-14 February 2020 at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

Hosted under the auspices of the African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) the conference and exhibition were held under the theme “Specialty Coffee Markets: The Next Frontier”.

The Conference has attracted more than 2,000 regional and international coffee roasters, traders, producers, professionals, and connoisseurs.

The conference and exhibition have created ample and unprecedented opportunities for coffee-growing African countries to show their specialty coffee and affiliated services and to connect with coffee buyer companies’ representatives from all over the world mainly from Europe, America, and the Middle East in one place to expedite coffee trade.

From Ethiopia, more than 60 company representatives (coffee producers and exporters) led by the Director of Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, Dr. Adugna Debela partook in the Conference and Exhibition. The event provided Ethiopian companies engaged in coffee growing and trade an opportunity to showcase a variety of Ethiopian coffee specialties and to connect with buyers from Europe, America, the Middle East, and East Asia to further expedite coffee trade.

The conference also helped Ethiopian delegation to meet all coffee producers’ representatives from other African countries and others in Asia and Latin America for experience sharing, better coffee management and boosting coffee yield.

Ethiopian Embassy in Kenya together with the owner of Sheba Lounge and Restaurant, an Ethiopian-origin businessman in Mombasa have also graced the Ethiopian booth at the venue with an Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony.

Ethiopian Embassy in close advice with the headquarters, Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority and Ethiopian branch AFCA liaison officer discharged the responsibility of coordinating the preparation and successful execution of the event.

At the end of the conference, Ethiopia was handed the mantle to host the 19th Africa Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition, as per a request made to the AFCA.

In light of this, Dr. Adugna expressed Ethiopia’s gratitude to the AFCA for presenting the honor of hosting the upcoming event in Addis Abeba 17-19 February 2021. He also invited all the participants of the function to take part in this historic event and make the necessary arrangements in advance as it is going to take place in the Land of Origins, the birthplace of coffee. Dr. Adugna also briefed the participants on the fact that Ethiopia is the largest coffee producer as well as exporter of high-quality coffee to the international market.

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