News: Senate Foreign Affairs Committe passes bipartisan res. on Ethiopia; US, EU discuss measures to ease crisis in Tigray, flexibility in GERD talks

U.S. Senate Chamber. Picture: Senate

Addis Abeba, March 25/2021 – The U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committe has on March 24 passed a bipartisan resolution on Ethiopia. The resolution calls on “the Government of Ethiopia, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and other belligerents to cease all hostilities, protect human rights, allow unfettered humanitarian access, and cooperate with independent investigations of credible atrocity allegations pertaining to the conflict in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.”

Speaking after the passage of the resolution by the Committe, Senator James E. Risch said: “I am glad the committee came together today to pass a number of important pieces of legislation.”

Senator Risch also thanked Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and eight other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for partnering with him on S. Res. 97, a bipartisan resolution on Ethiopia. “While Ethiopia’s transition faces significant challenges, passage of this resolution sends a bipartisan signal to Ethiopia, our allies, and our own government that the withdrawal of Eritrean forces, the cessation of hostilities, and getting Ethiopia back on track to achieve a once-in-a-generation democratic transition are priorities for the U.S. Senate,” he said.

“The congressional support is expected to give the executive room to engage”, said a diplomat who spoke to Addis Standard on the significance of the resolution. “It’s significant and symbolic. It also positions Congress to recommend further punitive measures like visa restrictions,” for example, the diplomat said on conditions of anonymity.

The passage of the bipartisan resolution came one day after the government sanctioned Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC/Commission) has released its preliminary report in which it confirmed earlier reports by international human rights organizations Amnesty and HRW. EHRC’s preliminary report detailed “grave human rights violations and an attack against civilians in Axum city, Tigray region.”

Transatlatic shared concern

Similarily, on the side of the NATO summit in Brussles, EU High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, and the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, “shared their concern about the continuing humanitarian tragedy and human rights violations and abuses in Tigray,” according to a statement released by the EU. “They discussed a variety of measures to support unhindered humanitarian access, investigations of human rights violations and abuses, a cessation of hostilities, and the immediate withdrawal of Eritrea from Ethiopian territory.”

Furthermore, the two pricipals “called on all parties to show flexibility and move promptly to resume productive negotiations” on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the coming weeks. Both have “expressed concern over increased tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia and encourage both countries to resolve their difference through peaceful means.” AS

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