Addis Standard staff
Addis Abeba, March 05/2020 – Ethiopia has recalled eight of its top diplomats abroad including career diplomats Ambassador Girum Abay and Ambassador Fesseha Shawel from Brussels (Belgium) and London (United Kingdom) respectively. The list of Ambassadors recalled also include Ambassador Dina Mufti and Ambassador Shiferaw Jarso from Cairo (Egypt) and Khartoum (Sudan) respectively, Addis Standard has learnt.
The other four ambassadors recalled are: Ambassador Yeshi Tamerat, from Rabat (Morocco); Ambassador Amin Abdukadir, from Algiers (Algeria); Ambassador Tirfu Kidanemariam, from Canberra (Australia); and Ambassador Asfaw Dingamo from Havana (Cuba).
What prompted the mass recalling of these top envoys abroad is unclear. And a source close to the matter described the recalling of Ambassador Girum from Brussels and Ambassador Fesseha from London as “totally unexpected and bizarre.”
Ambassador Girum, a multilingual, seasoned career diplomat with a combined 35 years of experience at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was serving as Special Envoy, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to Belgium, Luxembourg and E.U. Institutions as of June 2018. From March 2015 to June 2018, he has served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Armenia. Ha has also been Ethiopia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Italy between 2006 and 2009. “Many African countries do no have full-fledged Ambassadors representing them in Brussels. African diplomats stationed in Brussels call him “Africa’s envoy to the EU,” said our source. Brussels was his second appointment; previously he had served there as Counselor of the Ethiopian Embassy from 1992 – 1993. Reports circling within Ethiopia’s ministry of foreign affairs indicate that once in Addis Abeba, Ambassador Girum may be assigned as advisor to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a report Addis Standard couldn’t independently verify.
Likewise, Ambassador Fesseha, another career diplomat, has been in diplomatic service for nearly three decades and has served as a diplomat in various African countries, including Nairobi, Cairo, Mogadishu and Juba.
He was appointed as Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK two years ago in March 2018.
The timing of the recalling of Ethiopian envoys in Cairo and Khartoum Ambassador Dina Mufti and Ambassador Shiferaw Jarso respectively cannot be overlooked either, according to another source at Ethiopia’s ministry of foreign affairs. With the latest development involving Ethiopia’s mega dam GERD, both posts are (and have always been) considered extremely crucial. It comes at a time when the US-World Bank brokered talks have, for the time being, gone south. Ambassador Dina Mufti was Ethiopia’s envoy in Nairobi before moving to Cairo, where he presented his credentials only a year ago in March 2019; whereas Ambassador Shiferaw moved to Khartoum from Seoul, South Korea, in the summer of 2018.
In January this year, Ethiopia also recalled its envoy to Eritrea, Ambassador Redwan Hussien, whose post remained vacant since. Once back in Addis Abeba, Ambassador Redwan replaced a position held by Ambassador Markos Rike (PhD), then State Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Markos is now one of the nine Ambassadors appointed with a rank of “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary” by President Sahle-Work Zewde. On March 03, President Sahle-Work appointed a total of 15 ambassadors.
However, some of these appointments have raised eyebrows among those closely watching Ethiopia’s foreign policy moves. Among them, the appointments of Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye and Bacha Gina, President of Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. Both of them have no prior diplomatic experience.
The appointment of Yalem Tsegay as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary has also raised questions since Yalem, who was serving as Minister of Women’s, Children’s and Youth, was the last remaining member of TPLF in the cabinet of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
The countries where all the 15 incoming envoys will be stationed have not been communicated yet; but all eyes are on who will assume the positions in Brussels, Cairo and Khartoum. AS