BY TESFA-ALEM TEKKE
What you need to know:
- Addis Ababa said the allegation is coming shortly after the launch of national consultations on options for a transitional justice policy, whose main pillar is accountability.
The Ethiopian government on Tuesday rejected “Blanket Condemnations” by the US State Department’s statement that both parties committed grave war crimes in Tigray.
Washington on Monday accused all parties to the Tigray conflict of committing war crimes but singled out Ethiopian, Eritrean and regional Amhara forces for crimes against humanity, without mentioning forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
In a statement, the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs said the accusations by Antony Blinken are untimely.
Addis Ababa said the allegation is coming shortly after the launch of national consultations on options for a transitional justice policy, whose main pillar is accountability.
“The Government of Ethiopia does not accept the blanket condemnations contained in the statement and does not see any value in such a unilateral and adversarial approach,” it said.
Addis Ababa said Blinken’s statement is selective as it unfairly apportions blame among different parties in the conflict.
“For no apparent reason, the statement appears to exonerate one party from certain allegations of human rights violations such as rape and other forms of sexual violence despite the clear and overwhelming evidence about its culpability.”
The Ethiopian government statement further went into saying that the US statement is “inflammatory” and “ill-advised”
“Whatever the intentions of the US State Department, this statement will be used to advance highly polarized campaigns pitting one community against others in the country.”
“This partisan and divisive approach from the US is ill-advised. As Ethiopia is implementing the Peace Agreement, such apportioning of blame is unwarranted and undercuts the support of the US for an inclusive peace process in Ethiopia.”
The condemnation comes about a week after the top US diplomat’s trip to Ethiopia, where he praised progress in implementing a peace deal in the country.
Allegation casts shadow
Blinken’s visit to Ethiopia was expected to mend Washington-Addis Ababa ties which had been strained following a two-year bloody conflict in the Tigray region.
However, the fresh US condemnation has overshadowed those hopes.
“The visit of the US Secretary of State gave hope that the two countries are poised to mend their bilateral relations” the Ethiopian statement stated.
The government of Ethiopia hopes that despite the US’s statement, the frank discussions held and understanding reached during the Secretary of State’s visit to Ethiopia will help restore the strategic relations between Ethiopia and the United States.
Addis Ababa further said it will continue implementing all measures of accountability, including finalizing the nationwide consultation on transitional justice and ensuring that justice prevails for all victims.
Meanwhile, Eritrea which sent its forces to fight alongside the Ethiopian army later on Tuesday denounced the US allegations.
Eritrea’s foreign ministry said the US allegations were “unsubstantiated and defamatory”
The Red Sea nation added that the allegation constituted a “continuation of unwarranted hostility and demonisation that US administrations have pursued against Eritrea since 2009 to advance their ulterior political agendas”.
The Ethiopian conflict which broke out in November 2020 ended after a peace agreement was signed last November between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The US had played a crucial role in pushing for the peace deal including facilitating transportation and protection of TPLF negotiators to Pretoria where the peace accord was signed.
During his Ethiopia visit, Blinken held talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonon as well as officials from both parties who negotiated the peace agreement signed in Pretoria.
Discussions mainly focused on the implementation of the peace accord, the establishment of Tigray’s interim administration as well as providing accountability.
In Addis Ababa, Blinken announced a new $ 331 million humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia for the current fiscal year.
(Source: Daily Monitor)