Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday in Addis Ababa linked the resumption of a greater economic partnership with Ethiopia to "reconciliation and accountability" for the atrocities of the conflict in Tigray.
He also announced $331 million in humanitarian aid to help people affected by violence and drought.
On a visit to Ethiopia, in particular to reconnect with this historic ally of ties distended by this conflict, Mr. Blinken met on Wednesday with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, then with representatives of the rebel authorities of the Tigray region, in the northern Ethiopia.
The two parties have promised to implement the peace agreement signed on November 2 in Pretoria, which ended two years of deadly conflict, he assured.
"We call on the (belligerent) Ethiopians to respect their mutual promise to create a process of transitional justice" ensuring "reconciliation and the establishment of responsibilities", declared the head of the American diplomacy.
"To obtain justice, to bring people together, is to ensure that peace lasts (...) and that the country starts again", he insisted.
As Ethiopia progresses in this direction, the United States will intensify its efforts towards "economic engagement" with Addis Ababa, added Mr. Blinken, the most senior American official to visit the second most populous country in Africa since the outbreak of the war in Tigray, in November 2020.
Because of this conflict, theater according to Washington of crimes against humanity, Ethiopia was excluded in January 2022 from the beneficiaries of AGOA, an American initiative which exempts African countries from export taxes.
Mr. Blinken, on the other hand, announced the release of 331 million dollars to “provide vital support to those affected and displaced by the conflict, drought and food insecurity in Ethiopia”.
It is for "everyone - not just one group or region", Blinken stressed, implying that it was not just for Tigray.
The sum brings U.S. humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia for 2023 to $780 million, according to the State Department.
According to the UN, more than 22 million people, or almost a fifth of Ethiopia's 120 million, are in need of humanitarian assistance, due to violence across the country or drought ravaging the Horn of Ethiopia. 'Africa.
In the morning Mr. Blinken had underlined "the objective of strengthening the relationship between the United States and Ethiopia": "There is a lot to do. The most important being probably to entrench peace" in the north.
"We have old relations and it is time to revive them and move forward," said his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnen, also deputy prime minister.
After a meeting, Mr. Abiy said on Twitter that he had agreed with Mr. Blinken "to strengthen the old bilateral relations between our countries, with a promise of partnership".
Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending 20 years of open or latent war with neighboring Eritrea, Mr. Abiy has, since the conflict in Tigray, become in the eyes of Washington a symbol of a new generation of leaders. modern Africans to a near pariah.
Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to Tigray in November 2020, accusing regional authorities who had challenged his power for several months of having attacked military bases there.
The region was then led by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), a party that de facto governed Ethiopia from 1991 to 2018, gradually marginalized by Mr. Abiy.
The conflict spilled over into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, whose forces supported the federal army, also supported by the army of Eritrea, a historical enemy of the TPLF.
The Pretoria agreement was negotiated and signed under the auspices of the African Union (AU), but the United States played a crucial role with the belligerents, according to diplomatic sources.
The exact toll is difficult to assess, but the United States estimates that some 500,000 people died during this conflict, more than since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
If the fighting has stopped in Tigray - access to which is still forbidden to the press - other Ethiopian regions remain the scene of bloody conflicts, often linked to the awakening, under the government of Mr. Abiy, of identity and land claims.
Blinken's visit to Niger on Thursday also comes amid efforts by President Joe Biden to counter growing influences on the mainland from China and - more recently - Russia.
03/15/2023 19:58:41 - Addis Ababa (AFP) - © 2023 AFP