Mr. Tillerson’s visit comes at a time when Ethiopian politics “is undergoing through its own crisis”, a state department source told Addis Standard, adding “the visit is an indication that the US government is taking the unfolding events in Ethiopia very seriously. The current political crisis in Ethiopia will surely take a center stage during all the discussions with Ethiopian officials,” our source said.
Mr. Tillerson’s visit to Africa was announced in January when President Donald Trump sent a letter to African leaders meeting in Addis Abeba for the bloc’s annual summit, according to several media outlets in the US. The president’s message came after his infamous remark on immigration from African countries and Haiti.
But it was not clear if Ethiopia was among the countries the secretary of State was scheduled to visit.
Nick Barnett, US Embassy Spokesperson in Addis Abeba, said he “can not conform” the information. But Addis Standard learned that the Department of State will be releasing the announcement later today.
In a sharp departure from the past, on February 17, the US embassy in Addis Abeba released a statement saying the US “strongly disagrees” with Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency imposed on February 16. The state of emergency announcement followed the unexpected resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on February 15.
Since then, the ruling party controlled parliament has been summoned from its recess for an extraordinary session tomorrow. It is expected that the parliament will approve the emergency decree.
In the statement the US said it recognizes “the challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability,” but said these were “best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions.” The statement further said that a state of emergency undermines recent positive steps [by the Ethiopian government] toward creating a more inclusive political space, including the release of thousands of prisoners, and cautioned that “restrictions on the ability of the Ethiopian people to express themselves peacefully sends a message that they are not being heard.”
Ethiopian officials at the ministry of foreign affairs have since met with Michael Raynor, the US Ambassador to Ethiopia, and have discussed the state of emergency. But the US said its position reflected in the February 17 statement hasn’t changed.
Mr. Tillerson is expected to meet with Ethiopia’s outgoing Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and other senior officials, as well as officials from the African Union.
In what is going to be a busy diplomatic shuttle week, the Foreign ministers of UAE & and Russia, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan & Sergey Lavrov, respectively, are also due to arrive in Ethiopia on March 05 & 08 for official visits. The visit of both Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and Sergey Lavrov was announced today by Meles Alem, spokesperson at the Ethiopian ministry of foreign Affairs.
Source: Addis Standard