Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (156)

Niall Collins


156. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Ethiopia; the response of the European Union to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27590/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

On the evening of 22 June, targeted attacks were carried out in Ethiopia against senior Government officials in Bahir Dar, the capital of the northern Amhara region, and the capital, Addis Ababa. The Amhara Regional President Ambachew Mekonnen and two of his advisors were killed, and the perpetrator has been identified as the Amhara Region security chief, Asaminew Tsige. Some hours later, a bodyguard killed General Seare Mekonnen, Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Defence Forces, and a retired officer, at the general’s home in Addis Ababa.

Following the attacks, the Federal Government imposed an internet blackout across the country. State media announced that Asaminew was killed by the military in a firefight on 24 June. Asaminew, an Amhara nationalist, had been imprisoned under the premiership of former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for insubordination and plotting a coup attempt, and was released last year by current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as part of a large-scale release of political prisoners. The internet has now been restored.

The EU issued a statement condemning the killings, calling for restraint from all sides of the Ethiopian political spectrum, and reiterating the need for continued peaceful and democratic reforms in Ethiopia. It also reiterated the EU’s support for the efforts of Prime Minister Abiy and his Government in this context. During a visit to Ethiopia in January, the Taoiseach met with Prime Minister Abiy and expressed Ireland’s support for Ethiopia’s ongoing reforms, as well as raising concerns regarding the high levels of internal displacement.

Ireland’s travel advice for Ethiopia has been updated following the events of 22 June, and our Embassy in Addis Ababa is in contact with Irish citizens registered in Ethiopia. Ireland’s Ambassador to Ethiopia has been briefed on the events by the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office. The Embassy continues to closely monitor the political and security situation, in cooperation with the EU Delegation in Addis Ababa.

Ireland continues to support the political and economic reform process underway in Ethiopia, including through the Irish Aid programme: Ethiopia is Ireland's most significant bilateral development partner with a budget this year of €32 million.