Exclusive: Ethiopian Prime Minister Shuns Obasanjo Over Tigray Crisis


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is stretching diplomatic channels to the limit by refusing to allow African Union leaders and the international community to mediate in the violent crisis rocking the Tigray region of the country.

The latest of the diplomatic intervention was that of Nigeria former leader President Olusegun Obasanjo who Mr Ahmed refused to see in a bid to forestall further violence in the troubled country.

A source at the Nigerian Embassy, in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital told our correspondent, on Tuesday that Mr Ahmed refused to see Mr Obasanjo until the former Nigerian left the country, after waiting in vain for one week.

“It was a very embarrassing thing that the Ethiopian leader refused to see ex-President Obasanjo despite reaching out to him on several occasions. It was obvious that the Ethiopian PM doesn’t want to interface with any world leader on the lingering conflict in the Tigray region irrespective of who is involved,” one diplomatic source said.

However, our correspondent gathered that Mr Obasanjo despite spending several days in the country was only able to see the country’s ceremonial President Sahle-Work Zewde.

Another diplomatic source added that from Ahmed’s public statements, the Prime Minister (PM) does not want “any interference from any leader on the crisis” adding that “the PM had continued to tell foreign leaders not to come to Ethiopia in respect of the Tigray conflict”.

The PM had continued to say to leaders that the crisis in Tigray is purely an internal matter that does not require the intervention of the AU or any other international body.

Last week, Tigray leader Mr Debretsion Gebremichael wrote to the Africa Union (AU) asking for help. The chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Monday urged the Ethiopian leader and the Tigray state authorities to engage in dialogue, a move Ahmed rejected.

In a series of tweets he said wanted “to assure Ethiopians again” that there would be no dialogue until after rule of law was achieved”.

He added : “Our law enforcement operations in Tigray are proceeding as planned: operations will cease as soon as the criminal junta is disarmed, legitimate administration in the region restored, and fugitives apprehended & brought to justice – all of them rapidly coming within reach.”

A year before taking power in Ethiopia and introducing reforms to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Abiy successfully defended a PhD thesis in conflict resolution. Now he sits in Africa’s diplomatic capital, home of the African Union, and rejects calls for the resolution of the Tigray crisis.