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News Analysis: Ethiopia refutes Somalia’s accusations of ‘blocking its president from AU Summit’

The Ethiopian government has refuted allegations from the government of Somalia concerning the alleged hindrance of its president’s participation in the 37th African Union (AU) Summit (Photo: Getty Images)

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian government has dismissed accusations made by the government of Somalia regarding the purported obstruction of its president during the 37th African Union (AU) Summit, deeming them an attempt “to garner attention from specific media platforms.”

In a press briefing, Selamawit Kassa, state minister of the Government Communication Service, remarked that the accusations “are incongruent with the reception and treatment Ethiopia accorded to its guests.”

Selamawit stated that the nation welcomed all leaders attending the summit “without discrimination and with utmost respect.” Furthermore, she emphasized that upon their arrival in Ethiopia, the host country, the leaders were accommodated without any security impediments and with full accountability.

Her statement was delivered prior to the conclusion of the AU summit held this morning.

According to a statement from the Somali government, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had cut short his AU summit attendance due to what is described as Ethiopian security forces blocking him from accessing the AU headquarters.

The statement claimed that “armed Ethiopian security prevented him from leaving his hotel to attend meetings on Saturday.”

In a press briefing yesterday, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Meles Alem, also refuted statements made by the government of Somalia about alleged attempts by Ethiopian government security to prevent the entry of its delegation into the AU Summit proceedings.

In the briefing, Ambassador Meles Alem said that the government of Ethiopia has a responsibility to ensure the security of heads of government of all countries during their stay in Addis Abeba and deploys enough security personnel for this purpose.

“But, the President of Somalia refused to accept the security personnel deployed for him by the government of Ethiopia,” Ambassador Meles stated.

He explained that the deployment of security personnel for guests’ well-being is customary for such high-level diplomatic events, but the president of Somalia acted contrary to protocol. 

The Ambassador added that security guards of the Somalian delegation who tried to enter the African Union Headquarters armed with guns were prevented from doing so, as is policy.

Following the incident, Somalia has called for an independent AU investigation into the incident, questioning whether Ethiopia should host the body given alleged violations of international diplomatic norms.

The 37th African Union (AU) Summit, held in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia over the past two days, concluded today with a speech from newly elected AU Chairman Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, President of Mauritania.

President Ghazowani stated that the summit meetings evaluated progress on the AU’s Agenda 2063 over the first 10 years since its inception and identified priority tasks for the next decade.

Education is set to be a focus of the next 10 years of the development plan, with the goal of modernizing Africa’s education systems. According to Ghazowani, the AU will also continue efforts to secure a permanent African seat on the United Nations Security Council to increase African representation in global decisions related with security.

The summit has also sparked controversy with a speech by visiting Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva that drew condemnation from Israel. Lula compared the current Israel’s military actions in Gaza to Nazi crimes during the Holocaust, stating, “What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did not exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Lula’s remarks as “disgraceful and grave,” amounting to a “trivialization of the Holocaust.” Israel announced plans to summon Brazil’s ambassador in Tel Aviv for a formal reprimand. AS

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