Gulu | RedPepper Digital – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has on Monday, November 16, met with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen Hassen and his delegation to discuss peace and security matters affecting Ethiopia and Horn of Africa.
Museveni, currently on a campaign trail as NRM Party presidential candidate, met with the delegation to discuss the Tigray crisis that has put Ethiopia’s pace at stake as the tension risks a regional conflict
Uganda president, while addressing the Demeke Mekonnen-led Ethiopian delegation at Gulu State Lodge, edified the oldest African nation of its glory on the continent.
According to reports thousands of Ethiopian refugees have continued pouring into Sudan, escaping a worsening conflict that has spilled over Ethiopia’s borders and threatens to destabilise the wider Horn of Africa region.
The United Nations refugee agency said on Sunday, November 15, that more than 20,000 people have crossed into Sudan from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where federal government troops are battling forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party of the regional government.
Sudanese state media put the number of refugees at almost 25,000.
President Museveni noted that it was wrong for African countries to focus on the politics of ethnicity federalism other than interest. He added that it was only oneness and focusing on the common interests of the people in Africa that could bring about prosperity.
“The problem in Africa is that we never discuss ideology but rather focus on diplomacy. We must watch out for our ideological mistakes. If we keep making them, the end results might be severe. Emphasis must be put on oneness and common interest,” he said.
President Museveni advised that immediate negotiations must come into place to see to it that the war is not prolonged as it might lead to massive loss of lives and dwindling of the economy, adding that, because Ethiopia was one of the oldest countries in Africa and had never been colonized, it had an image to keep since it represents the whole of Africa.
His Excellency, Mr. Demeke noted that despite the current situation, the government’s immediate plan was to see to it that the lives of the civilians are protected.
Museveni, who has previously supported Ethiopia’s ambitious infrastructure projects including the construction of the renaissance dam against the chagrin of Egypt, is expected to root for talks between the two conflicting parties.
The Ugandan leader is a highly regarded figure in Ethiopia and among the few leaders who live in the presidential palace whenever in Ethiopia; a clear reflection of the bilateral and diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Museveni closely worked with Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which held power for about 30 years.
“It’s only Museveni whom TPLF listens to in this region,” said a diplomacy expect who worked at Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry for two decades.
On Sunday November 15, reports indicated that TPLF had fired rockets from northern Ethiopia, hitting Eritrea’s capital, Asmara. The development could escalate into a regional conflict.
Fighting between forces loyal to the Ethiopia’s federal government headed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF has claimed hundreds of lives and is threatening to rip the country apart.
While battles rage on the ground, the two sides are also fighting a war of words.
Political analysts have revealed that each of the sides is trying to rally their people and also to convince the world that they have the moral high ground.
The Abiy-Ahmed Administration in Addis Ababa and the TPLF accuse one another of starting the conflict.Mr Abiy said that army officers were murdered in cold blood.
The Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael says there was a coordinated attack by Ethiopian special forces and troops from neighbouring Eritrea.
Until there is an independent investigation, the rival stories remain allegations without evidence, which are being used to stir hostile sentiments.
Abiy administration says that the TPLF ‘crossed the line’ when it held regional elections in September 2020. The federal government had not sanctioned those elections and the Prosperity Party was not able to contest.
The TPLF counters that national elections had been scheduled for earlier in the year and repeatedly postponed – partly because of the novel coronavirus.
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TPLF asserts that the Abiy government’s term had expired without a formal date for polls. They claim that the September Polls were the regional governments mandate to the voters.
The political battleground is Ethiopia’s constitution. The country has a federal system in which the major ethnic groups administer their own regions.