Pompeo arrives in Ethiopia for talks with PM Abiy, President Zewde

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (2nd-R) and his wife Susan Pompeo (R) are welcomed by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew (L) after they arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 17, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday night as he began the third leg of his Africa tour.

Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde to discuss joint efforts to promote regional security, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Ethiopia is a key contributor of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which is battling Al-Shabaab, an Islamist insurgent group that has been fighting for more than a decade to topple Somalia’s central government.

Pompeo is also in the country to lend U.S. support to Ethiopia’s historic political and economic reform agenda.

Ethiopia, a vital security ally of the U.S. in the Horn of Africa region, has experienced substantial political reforms since Prime Minister Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2019, came into office in 2018.

Despite the reforms, Ethiopia has also experienced bouts of unrest with the government foiling an attempted coup in June last year. Ethiopia is set to hold parliamentary elections in August in what is seen as a voter test of Ahmed’s administration.

Additionally, Pompeo will meet with the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and address a press conference. Addis Ababa is the headquarters of the African Union.


Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work


The Secretary highlighted the importance of organizing free and fair elections in 2020 that are deemed credible by the Ethiopian people

WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, February 18, 2020/APO Group/ —  Office of the Spokesperson

Secretary Pompeo and President Sahle-Work also discussed opportunities for U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral cooperation

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met today with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Secretary Pompeo commended President Sahle-Work for her leadership in advancing landmark reforms and for her efforts to support women’s empowerment initiatives. The Secretary highlighted the importance of organizing free and fair elections in 2020 that are deemed credible by the Ethiopian people. Secretary Pompeo and President Sahle-Work also discussed opportunities for U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral cooperation.


U.S. to Offer Financial Support for Ethiopia Political Reforms: PM

BY GIULIA PARAVICINI

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the Prime Minister office after a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 18, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERSREUTERS

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The United States will provide financial assistance to Ethiopia as it pursues political reforms, the office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“An agreement has been reached regarding the strengthening of the holistic and ongoing reform in Ethiopia to which the United States Government plans to provide substantial financial support,” the statement said.

Neither Pompeo nor Abiy provided further details. Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, has long been an ally of the United States, which supplies about $1 billion in aid annually.

Pompeo praised political reforms Abiy has spearheaded ahead of Ethiopia’s upcoming elections. Ethiopians are due vote on Aug. 29 in a balllot Abiy has promised will be free and fair in a bold break from decades of repression.

“A free and credible vote will show that there is no false choice between democracy and security and it will ensure that everyone has a choice,” Pompeo told reporters.

Abiy took power in 2018 following years of anti-government protests. He freed thousands of political prisoners, won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending a long-running conflict with neighboring Eritrea, and put prominent dissidents and human rights activists in positions of power.

“These aren’t reforms imposed by somebody on the outside. These were reforms that came from Ethiopian people,” Pompeo said.

A senior U.S. State Department official told pool reporters said Abiy appeared committed to holding elections on time, although he said Ethiopian security agencies – long used to suppressing political opposition – might need some more training on respecting human rights.

Abiy’s reforms, while applauded abroad, have also unleashed simmering ethnic and political tensions at home as regional powerbrokers jockey for position. More than 2 million of Ethiopia’s 109 million citizens have been displaced, according to the United Nations.

“The most important challenge for us is security,” Ethiopia’s foreign minister Gedu Andargachew told reporters. “Most of our youth have no job… this situation is difficult to maintain peace and order.”

Abiy has also overseen economic reforms, promising to open its bureaucratic, state-run economy to foreign investment and liberalize the telecoms and banking sectors. Ethiopia struggles with foreign exchange shortages that inhibit investment.

Gedu also said there had been “progress” in a dispute that the U.S. Treasury has been trying to mediate between Ethiopia and Egypt over Ethiopia’s giant Blue Nile hydropower dam.

Pompeo is on a tour that has already taken him to Germany, Senegal and Angola. His visit comes as some African governments are questioning U.S. President Donald Trump’s commitment to their continent.

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