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U.S. steps into Ethiopia's political crisis as Rex Tillerson heads to Addis Ababa

U.S. steps into Ethiopia's political crisis as Rex Tillerson heads to Addis Ababa


The United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is due in Addis Ababa next week for talks with the government over the current political situation, Addis Standard news portal reports.

The portal cited an embassy source as saying, Tillerson’s visit of March 7 was “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,” the source added.

U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa refused to comment on the information of its top diplomat’s scheduled visit to Addis Ababa later on next week.

President Donald Trump in a letter to African leaders during the A.U. summit in January 2018 stated that he was going to send Tillerson on an African visit. It also remains to be known if he will visit any other African country.

The Department of State has rather “curiously” issued a Travel Advisory for Ethiopia. The main import of the advisory titled: “Ethiopia – Level 2: Exercise increased caution,” read as follows:

“Exercise increased caution when traveling in Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest and communications disruptions. Some areas have increased risk.”

It warned against all travel to the Somali Regional State “due to potential for civil unrest, terrorism, and landmines.” and asked citizens to reconsider travel to:

“The East Hararge region of Oromia state due to civil unrest. The Danakil Depression region in Afar due to crime. Border areas with Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and Eritrea due to armed conflict or civil unrest.”

The last top diplomat of the U.S. to have visited Ethiopia was Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy to the U.N. visited Addis Ababa in October 2017 before heading to South Sudan and later in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In her meeting with outgoing PM Hailemariam Desalegn, Haley stressed the need to give the youth a voice and to open up the country’s democratic space.

Ethiopia must give youth a voice, act on human rights – US envoy to UN – africanews https://t.co/dQZnPqZny9

— Ethiopian News (@ethiopican) October 24, 2017

In January 2018, the ruling coalition, the Ethiopia Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) announced widespread political reforms including the release of politician prisonser and the closure of a notorious jail facility, the Maekelawi jail in Addis Ababa.

In the weeks that followed, the federal and regional state governments released hundreds of prisonsers after their cases were dropped.

The release in February of more detainees led to sporadic jubilations especially across the Oromia region. Then PM Desalegn tendered his resignation following which the government imposed a state of emergency (SoE)ostensibly to quell insecurity in the country.

The SoE imposed by the Council of Ministers is to be ratified by the legislature as required by law on Friday March 2, 2018.

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