Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is reviewing the current foreign policy of the country...

Jul 27 , 2019

The administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is reviewing the current foreign policy of the country, in place since the days of Meles Zenawi. Unlike his predecessor, he has assembled a group of foreign affairs punditocrats, with clear instruction to separate the national security element from the document that has guided the nation's army of diplomats since the mid-2000s, gossip disclosed.

The punditocrats have presented their first work to a public discussion held at the Hilton a couple of weeks ago. They had presented it as a guide that will address regional geopolitical matters, if not the ever-evolving dynamic in the broader Red Sea arena. The wise men of foreign affairs, the absence of a single female in whose company makes it a boys' club, could be right on the regional focus they want to provide in the document, according to gossip.

For the traditional allies of Ethiopia in the Greater Horn of Africa, they see many of its diplomats as unguided planes with hardly a sense of direction, gossip observed. This could perhaps be as a result of volatility at the top leadership Menelik II Avenue has been going through over the past eight years. While one person - Seyoum Mesfin - had served the Ministry for two decades, the last decade has seen a change of guard four times.

The incumbent, Gedu Andargachew, appears to be in the mood to take his time to learn the craft of foreign relations and policies. And he has a lot on his plate; and never mind that he was absent from his bosses visit in Asmara last week. He will have to ensure Eritrea's strongman, Issayas Afeworqi, will have to proceed with the many proposals Ethiopia tabled to move forward in the rapprochement and normalisation between the two countries, says gossip.

But first, he will have to persuade the Eritrean government to accept the credentials of Ethiopia's ambassador in Asmara, Redwan Hussien, claims gossip. To the frustration of the latter, Ethiopia's envoy to Eritrea cannot carry on his responsibilities for lack of diplomatic credentials, gossip disclosed.

Djibouti is another neighbour which is following Abiy's Ethiopia under watchful eyes, claims gossip. Several issues make its leaders wary, including Ethiopia's desire to renegotiate the terms of a port utilisation agreement, according to gossip. Ethiopia's posturing in Somalia, where Abiy administration's nod to send troops outside of AMISOM's platform created a grave concern not only to Djibouti but also down south to the authorities in Kenya, claims gossip.

The Kenyans for their part are locked in a feud with their Somalian neighbours over a disputed marine territory. Both have gone to the international court of arbitration seeking justice, despite Prime Minister Abiy's effort in mediation. His country has a standing military pact with Kenya signed in the mid-1960s, between Emperor Hailesellasie and the father of the current Kenyan President, Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta now desperately wants to see his country elected to the non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). His diplomats are busy lobbying countries, including Ethiopia, to support their country's bid. The trouble for Prime Minister Abiy's administration is that one of the three African non-permanent member seats, reserved for the Eastern African region for the 2021-2022 term, is equally contested by Djibouti.

The election is set to be held during the UN General Assembly's 74th session scheduled for September of this year. Both Djibouti and Kenya will fight to secure the support of Ethiopia, not only on its own accord, but also in its stature and influence at the African Union (AU) whose support to either one is indispensable for the success of each candidate, claims gossip.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 27,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1004]

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