Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been sworn in for a second five-year term on October 4. Abiy’s Prosperity Party was declared the winner of parliamentary elections earlier this year in a vote criticized and at times boycotted by opposition parties and Western countries but described by some outside electoral observers as better run than those in the past, reported the Associated Press.
Just ahead of the ceremony, the crisis between Ethiopia and some western countries deepened, when the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry declared 7 persons working for the UN “persona non grata” on September 30. Publishing a statement via Twitter, the ministry stated that the seven were “meddling into domestic affairs” of the country and must leave Ethiopia within 72 hours.
The expelled people all belong to UN and UN-connected organizations.
In a statement published on October 1, the Foreign Ministry detailed in what way the accused UN personnel had “meddled”, mainly supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a Western-supported ethnic separatist armed group operating in the north of the country.
How the UN personnel “meddled into” Ethiopian affairs
The ministry stated that the UN-personnel had committed the following acts:
1. Diversion of humanitarian assistance to the TPLF;
2. Violating agreed-upon security arrangements;
3. Transferring communication equipment to the TPLF;
4. Continued reticence in demanding the return of more than 400 trucks commandeered by the TPLF for military mobilization and for the transportation of its forces since July 2021;
5. Dissemination of misinformation and politicization of humanitarian assistance.
Despite the extradition of the UN, the Foreign Ministry wowed to continue cooperation with the UN “provided that their activities to not undermine the sovereignty of Ethiopia and pose a threat to its national security interests”.
The UN Secretary General “shocked”
The UN Secretary General António Guterres voiced his “shock” in a statement, saying that the UN is “now engaging with the Government of Ethiopia in the expectation that the concerned UN staff will be allowed to continue their important work”.
The United States “strongly condemns” and reminds of recently established sanctions regime
The US State Department “strongly condemned” the expelling of the personnel and called the Ethiopian government “for an immediate reversal of the decision”.
In a written statement published on September 30, the State Department reminded that President Biden had issued an Executive Order establishing a new sanctions regime that authorizes the imposition of targeted economic sanctions on October 17.
On September 20, the State Department had explained the aim of the new sanctions regime, which can target persons and entities linked to Ethiopian Government, the Eritrean Government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and the Amhara regional government, as “stopping the fighting and commiting to a durable political solution”.
Similarly “shocked” was the British government, which delivered a statement to the UN Human Rights council on behalf of 40 countries, calling the Ethiopian government to reverse the decision.
Broad participation in Prime Minister’s introduction ceremony
In spite of the US and British condemnations and callas for a “lasting political solution”, Prime Minister Abiy’s wowing ceremony was attended by a great number of Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers, including all of Ethiopia’s neighbors.