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His excellency Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Chairperson of the IGAD,
CC. Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu, CC. Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed
Dec. 16, 2020
We, in the Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum (HOA-SCF), write to you with great concern regarding the crisis in Ethiopia. We value and support your attempt, as the chair of IGAD, to mediate between the Ethiopian Federal Government (EFG) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). However, we are saddened and extremely disappointed that Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, rejected the offer for mediation and opted for a military solution.
We commend the Sudanese Government, under your leadership, for its efforts in receiving and hosting more than forty-six thousand Ethiopian refugees, with more continuing to arrive, despite the economic constraints and the challenges of the recent flood. We urge the international community to support the humanitarian efforts of your Government in responding to the humanitarian emergency and protecting the refugees.
On the 28th of November 2020, the Ethiopian Federal Government (EFG) declared that the Tigray regional capital, Mekelle, was under the full control of the Federal capital, marking the completion of its military law-and-order campaign. The Ethiopian Government has also designated the TPLF as a terrorist organization.
In addition to instituting a military solution, the Ethiopian government has been arresting and harassing journalists and human rights activists reporting on the humanitarian crisis, and effectively rapidly shrinking the Civil Society space of Ethiopia, as well as ignoring court bail orders, an alarming and dangerous development. This is especially disheartening given the wide steps Ethiopia has taken in the recent past, via changes to the laws and added governmental support, to expand the Civil Society space.
We are troubled by the fact that the Ethiopian Government’s law and order campaign is becoming increasingly ethnicized, targeting Tigrayans not only in Ethiopia, but also in neighboring country including those serving in peace keeping missions in Somalia and South Sudan.
We are disturbed by the shutdown of media and internet access to the Tigray region and the restriction of access to any independent media.
We are distressed at the report that 100,000 Eritrean refugees are running out of food and that thousands have been forcibly deported to Eritrea.
We are pleased that PM Abiy has, on the 30th of November, received the AU delegation of former Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa. We are, however, extremely disappointed that the delegation was not allowed to travel to Tigray or meet with the TPLF leaders.
We are horrified by the killing in Mai Kadra and are appalled by the fact that killings are ongoing and that there is no possibility to follow up and verify.
We note the announcement by the UN on December 2, 2020, confirming that the Ethiopian Government has agreed to a humanitarian corridor to those parts of Tigray that are under its control. This is a positive step that should be expanded to all parts of the country.
We are concerned that irrespective of the Ethiopian Government’s assertions, fighting continues in Tigray, and that it is transforming into guerrilla warfare as the TPLF leaders vowed to continue the struggle.
With all this in mind and taking into consideration the history of protracted conflicts in the Horn of Africa, we have every reason to be extremely concerned as to the future stability of the region.
We note that from the 30th of November to the 2nd of December 2020 the IGAD Peace and Security Division concluded an annual meeting with member states. We hope that the opportunity of this meeting was used to engage the Ethiopian Government further on ‘stopping the guns’ in Tigray Region and engage in dialogue.
We appeal to you, as the chair of the IGAD, not to be discouraged by PM Abiy’s refusal to engage in mediation, and to use all efforts and all diplomatic avenues to bring all parties of this conflict to the negotiating table as has been done in South Sudan and Somalia.
IGAD’s peace and security mandate, and the IGAD strategy for peace and security require that maximum effort must be exerted to ensure any breakout violence in the region is immediately mediated.
We urge your effort as Chair of IGAD, and IGAD to take action in:
● Achieving a cease fire;
● An Agreement by the parties to this conflict to negotiate in good faith;
● A Humanitarian corridor accessing all Tigray region; will ensure regional stability
promote cooperation, development, and economic integration.
We urge Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to accept IGAD as the mediator. We remind the PM of his great work when he, as the IGAD Chair, mediated the talks between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces of Freedom and Changes (FFC) in Sudan. In the same spirit in which the Sudanese parties accepted his mediation, we urge PM Abiy the Ethiopian parties to accept your mediation as Chair of IGAD.
Albaqir A Mukhtar (PhD)
Chairperson of the Forum