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National Security update from the Ethiopian Embassy in London

Translation of Press Release from the Ministry of Defence on the current Security Situation in Ethiopia The Ministry of Defence is undertaking measures in certain areas of the country against groups and individuals engaged in attacks against civilians, incitement of inter-communal violence and criminal property damage. During a period when federal armed forces have been bravely engaged in the successful law enforcement operation in the Tigray region, we are seeing troubling security breakdowns in other areas of the country. However, thanks to the joint efforts of our armed forces and our peace-loving people, these destructive conspiracies, launched with the express purpose of obstructing our operations in defence of the Constitution, have been contained.

Clashes in the Metema area between Amhara and Kimant communities, who have coexisted in harmony for generations, is being peacefully resolved through the coordinated actions of federal and regional law enforcement, local elders and the communities at large. In Wellega-Bure, particularly the boundary between the Gida Ayana and Anger Gute areas, attempts made to instigate inter-communal violence between Amhara and Oromo communities that have lived alongside one another for centuries, have been quelled and peace restored as a result of determined efforts by the local community. A similar plot to sow discord and conflict between the Somali-Isa and Afar communities aimed at obstructing trade and the movement of goods into and out of Ethiopia, was contained thanks to the coordinated actions of peacemakers within those communities.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence wishes to express its deepest condolences to the victims of the recent violence that occurred in a number of weredas in the North Shewa, South Wollo and Oromo Special z

ones of the Amhara Regional State. This includes the events in Ataye town in recent days, where we have reports of civilian casualties and the large-scale destruction of property. Since these incidents, the National Defence Forces have taken decisive measures to immobilise the rogue forces responsible for the violence who attacked members of the security forces and attempted to obstruct their operations in the area. Additionally, members and sympathisers of these groups are, at this time, strongly cautioned against any further hostile acts that would disrupt the peace, including the illegal closure of roads. As a result of the insecurity in North Shewa, South Wollo and the Oromo Special Zone, the three zones will, henceforth, be administered under a Command Post comprised of members of federal and regional security forces and stakeholders from the three zonal administrations. The Command Post will be responsible for taking all necessary measures against these rogue elements to restore peace and reinstate the rule of law across these areas. In order to re-establish security and ensure peace, the following restrictions have been instituted by the Command Post:

  1. The movement of any armed persons or groups, 20km either side of the road connecting the weredas between DebreSina and Kombolcha, is strictly forbidden.

  2. The obstruction of roads and the destruction of religious institutions, public buildings as well as private property are acts which are strictly prohibited.

Any political parties, government bodies and groups found engaged in acts which directly contravene the current restrictions, stated above, and those set to be announced in future, will face the full might of the law. Finally, the Ministry calls upon the public-at-large to continue to stand by the security forces and to play a constructive role for the sake of peace and security in our nation.

On Ethiopia's 2021 Elections

A Statement from the Office of the Prime Minister on the 6th National Elections Ethiopia’s 6th National Elections are scheduled to take place in the month of June 2021 – only weeks away. The highly anticipated elections will be arguably Ethiopia’s first free and fair elections. Since 2018, the current administration has embarked on a path of democratization with a commitment to widening the political space and enabling a conducive environment for a democratic and informed discourse. The realization of this commitment has not been without its difficulties. Nevertheless, the Government’s will to persevere along the intended path of democratization remains uncompromised.

Following the failure of the previous regime to build a democratic culture, Ethiopia is now confronted with the twin challenges of building the necessary institutions and mindsets to enable a robust democratic culture and practice. Ethiopians are also presented with an opportunity to transition the country into a new era of governance and prosperity befitting its long history, the aspirations of its proud people and the ample growth potential the country possesses. To this end, the Government’s commitment to hold the first free, fair and peaceful elections in the country’s history have been founded on ongoing preparations to meet this goal.

A National Election Security Committee comprising members of the Federal Police, the Office of the Attorney General, the National Intelligence and Security Service, the Ministry of Defence and regional stakeholders has been established by the Government to ensure a peaceful and legitimate election. Discussions have been underway on the role the government must play in ensuring citizens exercise their constitutional rights to vote freely. Special measures are being taken by the Committee to identify areas where there is a risk of conflict. To deal with any election related grievances, the Federal Supreme Court has set up dedicated electoral dispute adjudication benches. Political parties are aggressively campaigning across the country. To help voters make informed choices, election debates among contesting parties have begun, with the active participation of independent media and civil society on topics of national importance.

With a vested interest and commitment to democratization, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed continues to convene regional presidents and the Head of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia with the objective of identifying and resolving bottlenecks or challenges in the pre-election phase. Resultantly, on 25th February 2021 and 17th April 2021 respectively, the Prime Minister held virtual meetings to follow up on security arrangements and the setting up of polling stations in each region. With a few weeks remaining, citizens are encouraged to register to vote in time in order to exercise their democratic rights and engage constructively in the electoral process so as to collectively ensure free and fair elections.

On the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Excerpts of a Speech by His Excellency Demeke Mekonnen, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, at the opening of a virtual webinar on the “Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Status of AU-led talks” co-hosted by the Embassy of Ethiopia in London and Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions in Europe

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a hydro-electric dam project that Ethiopians from all walks of life are building with our own resources. As you very well know, Ethiopia contributes 86 percent of the Nile waters. This is two thirds of our surface water. Ethiopia, as the main source of the Nile waters, believes that it has a legitimate right to utilize these waters to meet the needs and aspirations of its people. While doing so, we are certainly mindful of our obligations not to cause significant harm and for the equitable and reasonable utilization of the River.

The Nile is a lifeline for our country and the GERD is emblematic of the hopes and aspirations of Ethiopians for a dignified life. The GERD will ease the burden of extreme poverty and give access to clean energy to the sixty million Ethiopians who currently have no access to electricity. The GERD is not only an Ethiopian project, but also a regional one with enormous benefits to the Nile Basin and beyond.

When we embarked on the construction of the GERD, we made an unprecedented initiative to ensure transparency and confidence-building between the riparian countries. In spite of the consistent efforts of Egypt, and later the Sudan, to sideline Ethiopia, our government engaged with the two countries in good faith. Our actions are based on accepted principles of international law, which are also enshrined in the Declaration of Principles signed between the three countries in 2015.

While the two countries are fully aware of the benefits of the GERD, they have been intentionally politicizing and internationalizing the matter to exert unnecessary pressure on Ethiopia and to maintain their self-claimed water quota in line with colonial-era treaties. Ethiopia cannot and will not agree to such unfair terms that intend to elicit its endorsement for a colonial-era treaty which maintains the hydro hegemony of Egypt and the Sudan.

The ongoing trilateral negotiation on the filling and annual operation of the GERD has been going on since 2017. Since then, we have considered several approaches with the view to genuinely reaching a science and evidence based filling and annual operation scenario. Although we had inched closer to an agreement on a few instances, the numerous obstructions by Egypt and Sudan prevented us from reaching a mutually beneficial outcome.

Now, in the current GERD negotiations, we are being pressed to give up our right over the Nile by assenting to the monopoly of the Nile by Egypt and Sudan. It is critical to understand that this is what is essentially at stake.

Considering the demographic dynamics in the Nile basin, where our population is expected to double within decades, and also owing to the impact of climate change, it is only rationale to work towards a comprehensive legal framework over the Nile Basin. It goes without saying that this framework must be rooted in the internationally accepted principles of reasonable and equitable utilization. This is exactly what the Cooperative Framework Agreement on the Nile seeks to do.

The downstream Nile riparians will need to abdicate the self-claimed full control over Nile waters and demonstrate the necessary political will and commitment to negotiate in good faith with upper riparian countries, with a view to achieving a comprehensive settlement that will ensure benefits for all riparian countries.

Let me state clearly here that neither politicization nor sabotage should guide policies over the Nile—not anymore. Instead, promoting cooperation, understanding, and integration should be our guiding spirit. The GERD provides this missing element and valuable opportunity. We hope Egypt and Sudan will follow a constructive approach to achieve a win-win outcome within the framework of the ongoing AU-led tripartite negotiation process. We, on our part, are ready to agree on the filling and operation of the Dam, while negotiations can continue on reaching a comprehensive agreement. The AU-led process remains the most appropriate platform for achieving this objective.

Status of AU-led Talks

Following the conclusion, without agreement, of the last round of tripartite talks in Kinshasa a fortnight ago, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia has requested the Chairperson of the African Union, H.E Félix Tshisekedi, to call a meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU in a letter responding to the Prime Minister of the Sudan, H.E Dr Abdalla Hamdok.

In the letter, H.E Dr Abiy Ahmed countered the Sudanese Prime Minister’s assertion that the negotiation process has been a failure to date, pointing to tangible results including the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 2015 and subsequent establishment by the three countries of the National Independent Scientific Research Group (NISRG), which recommended a stage-based filling schedule for the GERD.

The Prime Minister further noted the consensus reached among the three countries on the continued and enhanced role of the observers to the talks – the Republic of South Africa, the European Union and the United States – in Kinshasa, while highlighting the need for the Chairperson of the AU to use all the resources at his disposal to effectively discharge his facilitation role.

Finally, the Prime Minister expressed his confidence that “if [all] parties negotiate in good faith, results are within our reach… Ethiopia still believes that the best way forward is to continue the trilateral negotiations under the AU-led process to reach a win-win outcome”.

On the Situation in Tigray

The objective of the intervention by the Federal government in the current phase of the rule of law operations in Tigray remains two-fold:

  1. To rebuild the region by ensuring that humanitarian needs are addressed; damaged infrastructure are repaired, and administrative and governance functions are restored to effectively provide public services to citizens, and

  2. To complete the process of bringing to justice the perpetrators of crime still actively operating in the region

…Humanitarian update and Rehabilitation

In a press conference last week, the Commissioner at the National Disaster Risk Management Commission refuted allegations swirling in the international media that people in northern Ethiopia had started dying from hunger. Furthermore, His Excellency Mitiku Kassa confirmed that, in fact, the distribution of humanitarian aid in the Region had seen a marked improvement in recent months and was registering critical results on the ground.

In recent weeks, six woredas that had previously been inaccessible to humanitarian aid have been secured following the provision of military escorts to relief organisations operating in the area. Furthermore, plans are now underway to resettle 169,000 internally displaced persons, sheltering in 12 centres, ahead of the upcoming rainy season. Accordingly, the Federal authorities working in tandem with the interim administration for Tigray and humanitarian partners is preparing to provide IDPs with a voluntary, dignified and safe return either to their homes or to temporary shelters under the care of host communities.

As has been emphasised over the last few months, the Government continues to provide the lion’s share of humanitarian support, covering up to 70% of all aid. At this time, humanitarian aid agencies remain focused on the Mekelle area, and are only providing 7% of all non-food aid and 30% of food aid for the 4.5 million people in the Region supported thus far. The Government remains committed to working with all local stakeholders to mitigate the challenges in the Region but expects its international partners to engage constructively by translating their concerns in the Twittersphere into tangible support on the Ground.

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