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News: Full implementation of Pretoria agreement essential to restore partnerships with Ethiopia: US

Assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Molly Phee responding to congressman Brad. Photo: Screenshot

Addis Abeba – America’s assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Molly Phee said the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed in Pretoria, South Africa between the Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan leadership is must be fully implemented for the US to consider restoring partnerships between the two country.

She was responding to a question put forward by congressman Brad Sherman during a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “Assessing the Biden Admin’s U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Will the US commit to not restoring AGOA and not supporting IMF, World Bank etc loans to Ethiopia until the Ethiopian government fulfills its obligations under the agreement including humanitarian aid, protection for civilians, human rights monitoring and restoration of services including the internet?” Congressman Brad asked assistant secretary Phee.

“We have made clear to the leaders of the Ethiopian government that full implementation of the agreement reached in Pretoria and elaborated in Nairobi is essential to restore the partnerships that we previously enjoyed,” she said.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on 23 December 2021 to terminate the designation of Ethiopia as beneficiary 01 January 2022.

With regard to the withdrawal of foreign forces, assistant secretary Phee said that it is part of the agreement and that the US is committed to additional sanctions on Eritrea if they [Eritrean leaders] fail to pull out their troops from Ethiopia. “I concur with your assessment of the negative role of Eritrea in Ethiopia; I think it is a positive development that as part of the this discussion the issue foreign is part of the agreement and the withdrawal of foreign forces…”

On Wednesday, 16 November, a senior U.S. government official told reporters that the CoHA between the federal government and representatives of the Tigray regional states signed in South Africa, Pretoria, on 02 November “calls for the withdrawal of […] not only Eritrean forces, but Amhara special forces & Afar militia that are currently in Tigray” and that the U.S will not hesitate to use sanction if the “commitments aren’t abided by.

Eritrean forces have been accused of acts of atrocities they committed against Tigrayan civilians, since the start of the war, which has long been documented by human rights organizations, including the state backed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), highlighting “grave human rights violations and an attack against civilians in Axum city, Tigray region.

Assistant secretary Molly Phee also said that the issue of illegal detention and torture of ethnic Tigrayans in different parts of Ethiopia is part of the dialogue the US government has been having with Ethiopian officials.

The issue of the contested Western Tigray which the Pretoria CoHA says would be resolved in accordance with the constitution, is an “issue [that] is going to be discussed” assistant secretary Phee said.

“I don’t believe the details about how they would conduct any referendum or address resolution of that dispute have been determined,” she added.

Addressing law makers, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday 15 November, that the issue of the contested areas including Western Tigray will be dealt with in accordance with the laws and regulations of our country. AS

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