News: Eritrea replaces Ambassador to Ethiopia by Chargé d’affaires en pied, yet to accept letter of credence from Ethiopian envoy

Biniam Berhe, center, presenting his letter of credence on 30 March. Biniam has long served Eritrea as its diplomatic representative to the African union before Ethiopia and Eritrea reopened each other’s embassies in Addis Abeba and Asmara, respectively. Picture: Eritrean embassy in Addis Abeba

Addis Abeba – The State of Eritrea has replaced its outgoing Ambassador Semere Russom, by Biniam Berhe, who presented his letter of credence as Chargé d’affaires en pied, representing Eritrea to officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 30 March. Chargé d’affaires en pied in diplomacy indicates that the post of Ambassador is to be left permanently vacant.

Meanwhile, Addis Standard learned that Eritrea has not yet accepted the letter of credence from Ethiopia’s newly appointed envoy to Asmara, Ambassador Fikadu Beyen.

The appointment of Biniam as Chargé d’affaires en pied instead of Ambassador came shortly after President Sahle-Work Zewde bid farewell to the outgoing Ambassador Semere Russom, who was also Eritrea’s Permanent Representative to the African Union (AU) & the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) since July 2018.

Ambassador Semere Russom, who was Eritrea’s former Minister of Education, was appointed as the country’s Ambassador to Ethiopia in the last week of July 2018, becoming the first Ambassador in 20 years. It came shortly after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki signed a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship” in Asmara on 09 July the same year, but unveiled the content of it in Jeddah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Similarly, Ethiopia named Redwan Hussein, who served as Ethiopian Ambassador to Ireland, among others, to become its Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Eritrea. However, Ambassador Redwan’s letter of credence was not accepted until late 2019; and in early 2020 Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed him as State Minister at the Ministry in Addis Abeba. It was not clear why Ambassador Redwan was appointed as State Minister just a few weeks into the official acceptance of his credentials by President Isaias in Asmara.

Ambassador Mihreteab Mulugeta’s letter of credence was never accepted by Eritrea’s president, and he was instead reassigned as Cabinet Affairs Secretary at MoFA

On 03 March 2020, President Sahel-Work appointed new Ambassador to Eritrea, and on 26 March, MOFA announced Mihreteab Mulugetaas as the new Ambassador to Asmara, replacing Redwan Hussein. However, sources with knowledge to the matter told Addis Standard that Ambassador Mihreteab Mulugeta’s letter of credence was never accepted by Eritrea’s president, and the Ambassador was instead reassigned as Cabinet Affairs Secretary at MoFA where he worked until recently. Ethiopia did not have a replacement Ambassador in Eritrea.

During the latest announcement of names of countries for Ethiopia’s newly appointed Ambassadors, the Ministry said Ambassador Mihreteab was assigned as Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Sweden and Ambassador Fikadu Beyen to Eritrea. Until the publishing of this news however, Ambassador Fikadu has not presented his letter of credential to the state of Eritrea. AS

Editor’s Note: This news is edited to incorporate information that Biniam Berhe was not only appointed as Chargé d’affaires but Chargé d’affaires en pied, which indicates that the post of Ambassador is permanently left vacant.

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