By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12
Ethiopia: The Ethiopian government will not delist the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) from terrorist designation, Ambassador Dina Mufti, Spokesperson the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) told local media today.
During his biweekly press briefing, MoFA Spokesperson, stated that there were pressures from various segments of societies and international community requesting the Ethiopian government to delist TPLF from the terrorist designation list. “The planned national dialogue is not a negotiation and the Ethiopian government does not have any agenda to negotiate with a designated terrorist group, including TPLF,” Ambassador Dina said.
“The planned national dialogue is not a negotiation and the Ethiopian government does not have any agenda to negotiate with a designated terrorist group, including TPLF,”
Ambassador Dina Mufti
The Ambassador’s statement echoed the statement released by the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) on 16 February that Ethiopia’s planned inclusive national dialogue does not mean negotiating with groups that were “designated as terrorist by the parliament.”
However, the statement stands in sharp contrast with what Annette Weber, EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, told media on 11 February that there were “discussions right now” regarding the designation of terrorism or the delisting of the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) from terrorist designation and that “there is a possibility for delisting.”
“Regarding the designation of terrorism or the delisting, there are discussions right now, that there is a possibility – of course it goes through the parliament – there is a possibility for delisting. And of course after delisting [is] engagement with the TPLF because that is necessary if there is an agreement on the cessation of hostility and ceasefire,” Annette said.
On Ethiopians stranded in Saudi detention facilities
During the briefing today, ambassador Dina talked about stranded Ethiopians that have been languishing in Saudi Arabia detention centers. Though he didn’t give details on what aspects the two governments discussed, he said that the Ethiopian delegation addressed the Saudi government on conditions of how the stranded Ethiopians be repatriated back home. “It is one of the highest responsibilities that the Ethiopian government needs to address and efforts are underway to do so. A National Committee has been set up in Ethiopia to accommodate the returnees,” he said.
Last week a delegation sent by MoFA to address the issue of Ethiopian prisoners languishing in different cities of Saudi Arabia returned without success, reports said. The delegation led by the Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide to facilitate the repatriation of the stranded citizens failed to reach an agreement with authorities in Saudi Arabia, according to JIRRA, an Australia-based not-for-profit charity organization that has been actively following the issue. Nebiyu Sirak, a journalist and a community advocate who used to live Saudi Arabia said, “The return of of the delegation without success is embarrassing.”
A recent investigation by Addis Standard into the conditions of Ethiopians detained in Saudi Arabia’s prisons revealed that a crackdown on illegal migrants has targeted many Ethiopians. A subsequent report revealed that testimonies offered via multiple calls from detainees inside the kingdom’s detention facilities continued. Nursing mothers, infants, and pregnant women continued suffering in these facilities without sufficient food, medicine, and a proper place to sleep. The detainees kept urging the Ethiopian government to intervene and repeatedly complained about Ethiopian Embassy officials in KSA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) officials of abandoning their responsibilities and ignoring their pleas to rescue them.
On Murle armed men attacks in Gambella
Responding to Addis Standard if the Ethiopian government has addressed the recent attacks by South Sudan’s armed group from the Murle community againist civilians in Gambella state, ambassador Dina said that “Murle’s attacks have been there for years and the nature of the problem should thoroughly investigate whether they were state sponsored attacks or not. In fact the two countries should educate and create awareness on the local residents on the borders regarding the importance of peaceful coexistence.” recent reports show that the armed groups has killed 18 Ethiopians, abducted 8 children and looted more than 100 heads of cattle from the Gambella region.
Ambassador Dina also discussed the lifting of the state of emergency, and the planned national dialogue. When asked if these measures were to comply with the demand from the international community, he asserted that such measures were in response to the Ethiopian people’s demand who have been asking the government to improve in areas of peace, development and stability in the country, which the government primarily had to address.
On U.S. Congress bipartisan bill H.R.6600
Commenting on the U.S. House bipartisan bill “Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act,” or H.R. 6600, which co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and Ranking Member Michael McCaul,ambassador Dina the bill was in the House being handled by members of congress. “The Ethiopian government has had good diplomatic relations with the U.S administration with whom peace talks engagements have been ongoing,” he said.
On 09 February, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed the bipartisan bill authorizing “sanctions against those who are perpetuating the conflict and suspends security and financial assistance to the Ethiopian government until humanitarian and human rights conditions are met.” Ambassador Dina has already told state media that “the bill calls for the imposition of sanctions and unwarranted measures against the people and government of Ethiopia undermining all the positive steps taken to ensure peace in the country.”