Africa

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Report on war in Ethiopia’s Tigray province undermines peace efforts in the region

Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali at the African Union meeting, 18 November 2018, Addis Ababa (Photo: Office of the Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, via Flickr)

Ethiopia’s ambassador to South Africa has strenuously objected to a report carried in Daily Maverick and first published in print in DM168.

(NB: We stand by our reporting – Editor)

I am writing this letter in reaction to the Daily Maverick article “Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town intervenes to prevent Rwanda-like genocide in Ethiopia” by Peter Fabricius that appeared online on 7 March 2021 and in DM168 on 6 March.

It is regrettable that the author failed to include the views of the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the Republic of South Africa when it reported on the matter that pertains to the government and the people of Ethiopia.

It is more perplexing that the correspondent failed to recognise the need to solicit our opinion (as well as the opinion of others who could have offered a more balanced view) on this matter while we have been working closely on other issues regarding Ethiopia, the Horn region and the continent at large.

The Ethiopian government embarked on law-enforcement operations in Tigray regional state after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) unleashed heinous attacks on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) on 4 November 2020. Prior to this daring attack, the TPLF had openly sabotaged the reform agenda of Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Laureate, since he took power in April 2018.

Such actions to sabotage were undertaken in a blatant attempt to conceal the TPLF’s crimes and atrocities they committed for 27 years while in power. Moreover, despite the incessant effort by the government, religious and political leaders and elders to engage the TPLF, it regrettably spurned all the efforts and continued its defiance and sabotage.

Currently, major law-enforcement operation measures are complete. The government has continued to provide unfettered access to deliver humanitarian assistance and access to international media. It has also expressed its full commitment to undertake thorough investigations of alleged abuses in collaboration with the international community in its effort to bring any perpetrators to justice.

In terms of humanitarian assistance, 3.8 million people in Tigray have benefited so far. It is also notable that, so far, the Ethiopian government is covering the cost of 70% of the assistance provided, from its limited resources, while the rest is covered by development partners and NGOs. The Federal Government is working intimately and around the clock with the interim regional administration of Tigray to restore peace and security; reconstruct destroyed transport and communication infrastructure; reinstate damaged electrical power installations as well as education, health and banking infrastructure; and resettle those individuals displaced as a result of the situation.

It is public knowledge and regrettable that most of these public infrastructures were damaged by the deliberate actions of the TPLF. The narrative reported in the Daily Maverick 168 newspaper suffers from numerous flaws and gaps. I list a few examples here:

  1. It undermines the leadership of the African Union and its member states in resolving their internal matters;
  2. It disturbingly and cynically equates the law-enforcement operation in Tigray, which put down a treasonous rebellion, with the genocide in Rwanda, and in the process undermines and devalues the suffering of millions of innocent Rwandese (and others on the continent who might find themselves victims of this heinous international crime);
  3. It erroneously accuses the Federal Army of instigating the war when this was officially declared and admitted in public by the TPLF as a “thunderous and pre-emptive strike” they undertook;
  4. It ignores completely, probably deliberately, the unwavering effort and the strides made by the Federal Government and the interim regional administration; and
  5. It lacks journalistic curiosity, decency, substantiation and professionalism as it was echoing discredited narratives being aggressively spewed by TPLF remnants.

It is on the basis of these accounts that this piece fails the basic test of decent and accurate reporting. We find that the correspondent opted to draw on fabricated, discredited and politically motivated accounts which irresponsibly and dangerously ignore the reality on the ground.

To be sure, inviting us to comment would have saved the report from entertaining inaccurate information whose publication is deeply contested by the Ethiopian government and other neutral entities.

I thus would like to take this opportunity to express our interest in a constructive engagement with your good self and Daily Maverick to rectify the situation, and look forward to your positive response. Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.

Sincerely,

HE Dr Shiferaw Teklemariam Menbacho

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to South Africa, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. DM

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