Tuesday November 24, 2020
Gedu Andargachew (L) sits down for a meeting with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on November 23, 2020.
Mogadishu (HOL) - As the military conflict in Tigray between the Ethiopian and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) continues to intensify, A small delegation led by Ethiopia's National Security Affairs (NSA) Director Gedu Andargachew made a surprising trip to Mogadishu. The senior advisor met with President Farmajo to lobby regional support amid an escalating war in the Tigray region.
Andargachew also sat down with Farmajo's National Security Advisor, Abdi said M. Ali and Ethiopia's Ambassador to Somalia Jamaluddin Mustafa. The latter confirmed the meeting and shared a photo on his Twitter account.
Andargachew is a veteran Ethiopian politician who served as the regional president of the Amhara region from 2013 to 2019. In April 2019, he was appointed by PM Abiy to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs where he remained until the onset of the Ethiopian-Tigray conflict on Nov 4th.
On his Twitter account, Amb. Jamaluddin said that Farmajo was briefed on the security situation and that the Somali president was in "solidarity" with Ethiopia.
"Today, I received our National Security Advisor and former Foreign Minister Gedu Andargacho in Mogadishu. He met with President Farmajo and briefed him on the status of the ongoing law enforcement operation in northern Ethiopia. The president hailed his solidarity with z FG of Ethiopia."
The meeting comes just days after Somalia's Foreign Minister, Amb Ahmed Awad was abruptly sacked after he contradicted a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). The MOFA statement on Twitter called for de-escalation but declared support for the unity of Ethiopia and respect for its sovereignty. It was scrubbed from Twitter just minutes after.
The meeting comes amid calls on the Ethiopian government to tone down its military operations and protect civilians, most of whom have been marooned in the warfare between the federal forces and forces allied to TPLF.
Andargachew has since visited Djibouti and Sudan while Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen travelled to Kenya and Uganda this past week in what analysts suggest is Abiy's push for regional engagement to block the intervention of the African Union.
On Monday, the U.S. released a statement calling for unity and threw its support behind peace efforts being organized by the African Union. Meanwhile, The UN Security Council will hold its first meeting on the conflict in Tigray on Tuesday.
The conflict in Ethiopia began on Nov 4th when, according to the Ethiopian government, TPLF fighters attacked two federal military camps in the northern region and continued to defy the federal government's authority. Since then, scores have been killed and close to 40,000 civilians have fled into neighbouring Sudan.
The TPLF was at the forefront of an armed rebellion that defeated the DERG - a repressive military junta - in 1991 and wielded disproportionate influence in the EPRDF, the political coalition that took over. The EPRDF remained in power for 27 years until 2018 when Ethiopia's current PM came to power.