Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, says the political and security landscape in Africa is on a path of adversity following a couple of coups and other security activities.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Mekonnen said, “Forcible overthrow of governments, joint military exercises, aggression, renewed appetite for intervention in sovereign countries, subversion and mercenaryism, normalized and renewed scramble for natural resources, secret military pacts, geo-political competitions and others are becoming pervasive.
“Unless we swiftly change course, this will be yet another round to destabilize Africa and disenfranchise Africans in the determination of our destiny. We hope there will be more countries to lift the banner of multilateralism rather than the vagaries of unilateralism.”
Mekonnen, who is also the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said, accordingly, Ethiopia stands ready to avail bilateral mechanisms and diplomatic solutions to resolve the border dispute with Sudan.
“It is incumbent upon our two governments to work for peace for the sake of our people that have the strongest bond of fraternity.”
He said the past year has also seen a milestone for the people of Ethiopia as the nation’s experiment with democracy ascended one level with a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election with an unprecedented level of voter turnout.
Mekonnen further noted that his country has been threatened for harnessing water from its abundant natural resources.
“The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) – a hydroelectric dam project we fully financed underwent a second-year filling. Hopefully, we inspired others to develop local capability to plan, finance, and complete renewable energy projects. However, our humble attempt to light the houses of millions of Ethiopians and create hope for our youth is politicized before global bodies. This peoples' project also received unending threats. Ironically, we are accused and threatened for drinking from our water.”
On the matter of the Nile and the GERD, Mekonnen said the nation’s confidence “is in the might of the truth, wisdom and justice that has always defined our path for cooperation.
“The generational desire to use our natural resources will not be stopped by a colonial legacy and monopolistic cause. We hope our negotiating partners are prepared for a win-win outcome under the African Union led process.”
He said Ethiopia’s political reform agenda has been facing some challenges even if there were some successes in the past three years.
“The changes we introduced, ushered-in democracy, human rights, human development, and regional stability. It also opened avenues for dialogue and unity among divergent political and interest groups. Tapping into Ethiopia’s rich history and enormous potential, the reform charted our inevitable and bright future - placing Ethiopia as a new horizon of hope. It overturned a complex network of corruption, illegitimate political power, and illicit financial flows -- installed at the cost of national interest and the detriment of regional peace. The reform, however, was not without challenges.
“As any other democracy, our democratic process is an attempt to find a balance between stability and disruption. In Ethiopia, groups that consider equality as subjugation are making their best effort to create and prolong anarchy. At the hands of these lords of instability, we went through unimaginably inhumane attacks against citizens, instigation of violence, and destruction of property, that culminated in an attack against the Ethiopian army.”
He said on the night of November four last year, in a scheme “orchestrated by a criminal group”, the Ethiopian National Defense Force was attacked from within.
“The unsuspecting men and women in uniform were slain. The Government of Ethiopia, took the necessary measures to avert the grave danger imposed on us. While the government was addressing humanitarian needs, the disruptors applied their cruel design to aggravate human suffering. We were also caught by surprise, and to-be-honest, unprepared for the twisted propaganda campaign. Little did we know the power of privatized politics and foreign policy that clouds the truth from policy decisions. The criminal enterprise and its enablers created and advertised horrific imagery of faked incidents.”
Mekinnon claimed that as if the real misery of Ethiopians was not enough, story lines were created to match not the facts but preconceived stereotypical attitudes.
“The Government of Ethiopia meeting-out its obligation to fulfil humanitarian needs, the declaration of humanitarian ceasefire, the commissioning of investigations, and accountability measures have not mitigated the propaganda campaigns. At this stage, we are nearly convinced humanitarian assistance is a pretext for advancing political considerations. Accused by agenda-and-revenue driven media, convicted by misguided politics, we are now facing a unilateral coercive measure. Ethiopia opposed coercive measures, when it was applied against others, we advise against its application on Ethiopia. Prescriptions and punitive measures never helped improve situations or relations.”
He said the prudent measures “we will continue to take are commensurate with the existential challenge we face. Despite the undue pressure, we shall live up to the solemn obligation to preserve the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the political independence of Ethiopia. While cooperation and concern from our friends is welcome, we underline the need to employ constructive approach, cultivate trust and ensure understanding.”
Mekinnon said the entire region is facing the “destructive path paved for it by this group. Supporting Ethiopia overcome this criminal group is helping sustain regional peace. Dialogue has always been our preferred course of action. Accordingly, Ethiopia is open to candid initiatives for peace.”
The Ethiopian government has been accused of killing people following a civil war in Tigray.