The romance with Eritrea’s Issayas Afeworqi may have been short lived

Dec 7 , 2019

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is due to receive the most prestigious recognition, a Nobel Peace Prize for his courage in pacifying two decades of tension with Eritrea. On Tuesday, he will receive the honour that will field him alongside 10 Nobel Laureates from Africa; from Anwar al-Sadat to Desmond Tutu and from Nelson Mandela to Ellen J. Sirleaf. Indeed, the first to receive such an honor outside of Europe and the Americas was Albert Luthuli, a leader of the ANC in South Africa, whose determination for the non-violent struggle had earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.

The decision to select Abiy this year was made on the basis of hope he offered for consolidating the democratic opening in Ethiopia, besides his effort in making an arguable peace with Eritrea. While the jury is still out on the first, he will likely travel to Oslo, Norway, not happy with the recent behavior of the guys in Asmera, gossip observed.

The romance with Eritrea’s Issayas Afeworqi may have been short lived, considering the not-so-friendly rhetoric from his proxies, gossip says. Neither Issayas nor his government to date has offered words of congratulations to Abiy for the Nobel Peace Prize, of which they are the primary reasons for the award. That is more than something strange, claims gossip. Abiy too made a rather disparaging statement toward Eritrea’s leader when he met businesspeople who are natively from Tigray Regional State a couple of weeks ago, gossip disclosed.

Eritreans’ displeasure with their Ethiopian counterparts could be the reason why they failed to appear at the recently held summit for the heads of state of the IGAD countries, where they were highly expected, claims gossip. For a long time, Eritreans viewed IGAD as a foreign policy ploy for Ethiopia. For a reason though.

Ethiopia held the position of chair at the IGAD for over a decade. A regional bloc of sorts, much of the international drive to isolate Eritrea and impose sanctions on it have roots there; so much so that Eritrea’s leaders felt frustrated to leave it. It was hoped that they would submit an official request for resuming membership with IGAD; they did not.

The remaining crowd had argued, rather fiercely, over Abiy's nomination of his close friend and once staunch political allay, Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD), as the new Secretary-General, replacing the Kenyan Mahmoud Maalim, who had served for a little over a decade. No other person appointed to run the Djibouti-based secretariat of IGAD was grilled as much as Worqneh, gossip disclosed.

It is due to the tension mounting between the leaders of the region where Abiy is cruising in trying to bargain on several fronts all at the same time, claims gossip. He had tried to win the support of Ismael O. Guelleh, promising to persuade Kenyans to withdraw their bid for the alternative membership of the UN Security Council, claims gossip. He tried to bring Somalia’s Abdullahi Mohammed, aka Farmaajo, to his fold, by weakening Farmaajo’s foes in Jubaland, but pushing Kenya to put its army on alert, claims gossip.

Foreign policy pundits are now worried that Ethiopia is losing ground, and not only in the broader African continent. They come to believe its standing among leaders of its immediate neighborhood is eroding fast, claims gossip. Leaders of Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan and Kenya appear to be viewing Ethiopia’s leader and his ambition for regional political integration at arms length, according to gossip. Sudan, whose new Prime Minister was a long-time resident of Addis Abeba, can be the exception, gossip claims. No wonder that it was a safe bet for all the countries to give Sudan the chairmanship of IGAD, over the contestation between Djibouti and Kenya, gossip says.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 07,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1023]

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