Uhuru to Ethiopia leaders: The fighting must stop!

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Moyale on December 9, 2020.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has appealed to the Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to stop fighting and end the suffering of their people.

In a statement sent to newsrooms on Wednesday evening, President Kenyatta urged the country’s leaders to stop inciting the public and move beyond the original causes of the conflict to find a solution.

“The crisis has now escalated into a nationwide social convulsion of historical proportions for Ethiopia. The origins of the crisis, bitter and unacceptable as they might appear, can no longer be used as a justification for the continued suffering, killings and the extended open warfare that now engulfs the nation,” said Mr Kenyatta.

The conflict in Ethiopia began in November last year, sending the country into a crisis that has seen thousands killed and millions displaced. 

Millions from the northern region of Tigray have been forced to flee the country to neighbouring Sudan even as humanitarian workers struggle to get aid to these areas.

“It therefore concerns me deeply that after one year, the crisis has not abated but has in fact deteriorated. The fighting has continued, the deaths have accumulated, the displacement persists and suffering and humanitarian emergency has taken root in the country.”

He said it is highly regrettable that the conflict is happening in the middle of a pandemic with its attendant risks and disruptions, particularly for the most vulnerable.

He noted that he had attempted to intervene in his capacity as a great friend of Ethiopia, as the Chairman of the East African Community, as the president of the Office of the Organisation of African, Pacific and Caribbean States (OACPS) and as Africa’s representative in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). All this, however, has failed as fighting persists.  

Mr Kenyatta added: “I have lent the full weight of my office in insisting that despite the pertaining circumstances surrounding the crisis, the fighting must stop!”

The PM Abiy Ahmed-led government had asked residents to prepare to protect their neighbourhoods following reports that TPLF had captured two cities and was advancing towards the capital Addis Ababa.

President Kenyatta becomes the latest leader to voice concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the Horn country. 

US President Joe Biden said Tuesday he was revoking key trade preferences for Ethiopia, ramping up pressure on its historic ally over rights concerns in its military campaign in restive Tigray. The US embassy in Ethiopia has also urged its citizens to consider leaving the country.

The United Nations has also called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and unrestricted humanitarian access to Tigray, Amhara and Afar in addition to dialogue amongst the warring factions.

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