On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to be held to account for atrocities committed by all sides throughout years of conflict in northern Ethiopia.
The secretary of state and the prime minister met for about two and a half hours in Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa during Blinken’s first visit to the country as a senior US diplomat.
His trip comes months after the two main parties to the conflict – the Abiy government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – reached an agreement “Agreement on the definitive cessation of hostilities” aimed at ending the bloody dispute that has caused a humanitarian catastrophe and led to a significant breakdown in relations between the United States and the Ethiopian governments.
A senior State Department official said ahead of the trip, which also includes a visit to Niger, that the United States was seeking to “reshape our engagement with Ethiopia” in the wake of the “shattering” conflict.
“To put this relationship on a forward trajectory, we will continue to need action from Ethiopia to help break the cycle of ethnic political violence that has set the country back for so many decades, including understood more acutely in this recent conflict,” deputy secretary of the African affairs officer Molly Phee said in a call with reporters last week.
During their meeting on Wednesday, Blinken and Abiy “discussed significant progress in implementing” the cessation of hostilities agreement, including “improving humanitarian access and restoring basic services.” , according to a statement from the US State Department.
The two men “discussed the importance of accountability for the atrocities perpetrated by all parties during the conflict” and “the need for an inclusive and comprehensive transitional justice process”, the statement said.
CNN has reported extensively on the massacres and acts of sexual violence committed during the conflict, some of which bear the marks of genocide. Blinken said in late 2021 that the United States would determine whether the crimes committed in northern Ethiopia constitute genocide “once we have all the analysis necessary to examine the facts and examine the law”, but a public decision n has not yet been taken. was done.
A joint report released in late 2021 by the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission concluded that all parties to the conflict had “committed violations of international human rights law”. rights, humanitarian law and refugee law, some of which may amount to war”. crimes and crimes against humanity”.
The Biden administration has adopted punitive measures in response to the war. In November 2021, they penalties imposed to the Eritrean army and its sole political party for their involvement in the conflict. In early 2022, Ethiopia lost access to a lucrative US trade program called the African Growth and Opportunity Act due to “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”.