21 November 2020
PRETORIA – President Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as African Union chairperson has received Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, who paid a visit to South Africa in her capacity as Special Envoy of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Zewde briefed Ramaphosa about the conflict in Ethiopia between Tigray and Ethiopia’s armed forces.
The Presidency said Ramaphosa informed Zewde that he, as chairperson of the AU, as well as the AU family of nations, were deeply concerned about the conflict that has broken out in Ethiopia.
Ramaphosa expressed his deep desire that the conflict should be brought to an end through dialogue between the parties.
During the engagements, Ramaphosa informed Zewde that as African Union chairperson, he has appointed three distinguished statespersons – Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former president of the Liberia, and Kgalema Motlanthe, former president of South Africa – as special envoys of the African Union.
The envoys will travel to Ethiopia in a bid to help in the mediation process between parties to conflict.
“Ethiopia occupies a place of pride and honour in the history of Africa, having successfully resisted colonialism, and played a leading role in the decolonisation of Africa,” said Ramaphosa.
“The decision of the founding fathers that Africa’s foremost continental organisation, the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), should be established and headquartered in Addis Ababa, was a fitting tribute to Ethiopia’s role as a symbol of African unity. In keeping with this rich tradition and history, Ethiopia hosts the African Union (AU).
“It is against this background that the ongoing conflict is a matter of great concern not only for countries in the region of the Horn of Africa, but for the continent as a whole,” said Ramaphosa.
The Presidency in Pretoria said the appointment of the special envoys seeks to help the fraternal people of Ethiopia find a solution to the current problems, in the spirit of solidarity, guided by the dictum of “African solutions for African problems”.
President Ramaphosa has expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for accepting this initiative, and affirming the cooperation of the Ethiopian government in facilitating the work the special envoys.
Aid agencies in Ethiopia have called for for a temporary ceasefire in the the war ravaged northern parts of the country, to allow aid to reach civilians.