Situation report: Italy aims to be first Western nation to establish a cooperation agreement with Eritrea; A clergyman attempts to illegally withdraw $6 million from the AU account; Somaliland to hold elections in November

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Situation in Ethiopia (per 22 April)

  • A clergyman and a deputy general manager at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarchate, Belay Mekonnen, was arrested and charged for attempting to illegally withdraw $6.05 million from the account of the African Union at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE). 
  • Belay provided false documents prompting the CBE staff to make a precautionary verification call with the AU’s financial department which confirmed that it was a fraudulent attempt.
  • The Federal Police Commission was alerted and arrested Belay. CBE confirmed no money has been withdrawn or transferred from the accounts of the AU. 
  • Ethiopia may need to consider devaluation of its birr currency in order to be eligible for a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Ethiopian delegation led by Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide met with the IMF representatives last week to continue the ongoing discussion. 
  • “There are still differences” between the IMF’s and Ethiopia’s position, stated IMF Mission Chief for Ethiopia Alvaro Piris Chavarri despite expressing his optimism over the discussion. 
  • Seven diplomatic missions in Addis Ababa, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US  called for de-escalation of tensions in Ethiopia and protection of civilians through peaceful dialogue. The plea comes after last week’s escalation between Tigrayan and Amhara forces in the Raya Alamata area. 
  • 29,000 people have been forced to flee from their homes since the fighting over the contested area in Raya Alamata broke out, according to the UN OCHA.
  • Eight new officials were appointed by the Gambella regional government into their respective governance bureaus, including Regional Justice Bureau, Security Administration Bureau, Rural Roads Authority, and Peace and Security Administration Bureau. 
  • New nominations come after the Gambella regional government removed the previous officials from their positions for failing to fulfil their responsibilities. 

Situation in Tigray (per 22 April)

  • The Tigray Genocide Inquiry Commission will collaborate with the Ethiopian federal government and the World Bank, according to Yemane Zeray, the head of the Commission. 
  • The Commission was established in May 2022 to assess and document human rights violations against Tigrayans. Currently, the study on socioeconomic impact is being finalised which should serve as an input for initiatives focused on recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. 
  • Bishop of the Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat, Tesfasellassie Medhin,  urged for immediate action to address humanitarian needs as people are suffering from malnutrition and current funding does not allow for all vulnerable people to be reached.
  • “We embrace children so undernourished that they appear skin and bones, listen to families who are struggling to provide even a portion of a single meal each day”, writes the Bishop in his letter. 

Situation in Sudan (per 22 April)

  • The United Nations Security Council (SC) held a hearing on Sudan after the request by the UK on  Friday. Rosemary Anne DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, briefed the SC about the ongoing crisis exacerbated by foreign material support. 
  • “If the parties have been able to sustain their confrontation, it is in no small part thanks to the material support they receive from outside Sudan,” DiCarlo stated. She further urged for reopening the negotiation process in Jeddah which had been announced would resume in the coming weeks. 
  • Fighting between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued across the country  resulting in casualties, plundering and destruction over the past week. 
  • Recent incidents include airstrikes by the SAF in regions including North Darfur, El Gezira, and Sennar.
  • SAF managed to repel the attack by RSF on El Obeid city in an attempt to capture the capital of the North Kordofan state. The attack claimed severe casualties and destruction. 

Regional Situation (per 22 April)

  • Somaliland aims to hold presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections on 13 November 2024, according to the electoral commission of Somaliland. 
  • Ethiopia is committed to the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Somaliland, despite the rejection of Somalia, stated Abdulaziz Ahmed Adem chief advisor to the National Intelligence and Security Service during a conference on regional security in Addis Ababa. 
  • Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud postponed the meeting of the National Consultative Council (NCC) amid the rising internal tensions over the adoption of constitutional changes that were rejected by the Puntland regional state in the past weeks. 
  • The Chief of Kenya Defense Forces (CDF), Francis Omondi Ogolla, together with 9 other senior military officials died in a military helicopter crash in Elgeyo Marakwet on Thursday. The group of officials were on a security mission. 

International Situation (per 22 April)

  • Italy aims to be the first Western nation to establish a cooperation agreement with Eritrea, according to Edmondo Cirielli, Quaestor of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy. 
  • “We are working on this agreement which would have great innovation and a very important result,” said Cirielli. Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in January during the Italy-Africa Summit discussing the possibility of investment and cooperation.
  • G7 countries expressed concern over growing tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia over the controversial MoU with Somaliland urging “to keep all channels of dialogue open to prevent further escalation”. The statement came after the meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Italy last week.

Links of interest

Controversial clergyman at heart of foiled USD 6 million fraud attempt on AU premises
IMF says still ‘differences’ with Ethiopia over new loan programme
Gambella Regional Gov’t Press Secretariat Office
X: U.S. Embassy Addis – Joint Statement
Ethiopia land violence leaves thousands homeless
Ethiopia: Flash Update #1: Displacement in North Wello and Wag Hamra Zones, Amhara Region, As of 19 April 2024
Unsettled border disputes leave desperate people of Irob in no man’s land
Tigray Genocide Inquiry Commission Receives Federal Recognition
Ethiopian bishop’s desperate plea for humanitarian aid
Battles between the army and the RSF continue unabated in Sudan
Sudanese army repulses RSF attack in North Kordofan State
Sudan war fuelled by weapons from foreign actors in violation of sanctions – UN
Somaliland to hold elections by Nov. 13 despite political challenges
Mogadishu objections to Somaliland deal a “hiccup”: senior Foreign Affairs advisor
News: G7 countries concerned over Ethiopia, Somaliland MoU, ‘persistent and violent tensions in many areas’ in Ethiopia
Somalia president postpones talks with Federal States’ leaders amid fallout
Kenya Mourns Chief Of Defence Forces-Ogolla
Cirielli to Nova: We want to be the first Western country to sign a cooperation agreement with Eritrea

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