Blinken visits Kenya and warns of the regional consequences of the war in Ethiopia

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken visited Kenya on Wednesday, the first stop on a small trip to Africa. In meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenyan Foreign Minister Raychelle Omamo, the secretary praised the efforts of the Kenyan government to broker a ceasefire between the Ethiopian government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the rebels of the northern Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) group.

“We want the parties to come together at the table to enforce a cessation of hostilities,” Blinken said during his meeting with Omamo. “We need to see an unhindered flow of humanitarian aid now. We have to see […] all who strive to resolve the existing differences peacefully and constitutionally. “

Ethiopia has been in an escalating civil war for a year. In late 2020, the government accused the TPLF, which previously ruled the country from 1991 to 2018, of planning unrest in the country’s northernmost province, Tigray. After an initially successful military intervention, which was carried out jointly with Ethiopia’s northern neighbor Eritrea, TPLF guerrillas drove the Ethiopian army to flight and forced them out of the province; They have since allied themselves with ethnic Oromo separatist rebels and have moved south towards the capital, Addis Ababa, leading to the declaration of a state of emergency and a series of ethnically motivated arrests.

So far, the conflict has killed thousands and displaced at least two million Ethiopians. War crimes are alleged to have occurred on both sides, and the Ethiopian government in particular has been charged with blocking the region, preventing international aid from entering Tigray and potentially worsening a famine there.

The Ethiopian government has been condemned by the international community for these actions and the United States has cut aid to the country.

Kenya, which shares its northern border with Ethiopia, has actively sought to mediate the conflict as the instability in Ethiopia could affect other nations in East Africa. On Sunday, Kenyatta visited Addis Ababa, where he negotiated privately with Abiy.

Blinken and Omamo indicated at a joint press conference that the conflict could not be resolved militarily and that diplomacy could help calm tensions before they escalated further.

Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National interests.

Image: Reuters

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