The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa on Tuesday rejected allegations by a founding member of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that the United States was involved in the appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who took the helm of the ruling party on March 2018.
At a conference organized by Mekele University over the weekend, the retired Tigrayan official, Sebhat Nega said he had “no doubt” that the US government had played an active role in pushing the appointment of Abiy Ahmed. He offered no evidence to support the allegations.
The finger-pointing comes as many TPLF officials who felt side-lined escalate rhetorical attack against the chairman of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.
U.S. Embassy spokesman in Addis Ababa, Nicholas Barnett said “I want to be perfectly clear that any claims of U.S. involvement in the selection process of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia are completely baseless,” speaking to VOA Horn of Africa Service. He said the U.S believes both in theory and practice in respecting Ethiopia’s sovereignty and the right of individuals to vote for their own leaders. “We see Prime Minister Abiy’s election as chairman of EPRDF as reflection of people’s interest for reform, representative political system and participative democracy. We certainly support the Prime Minister’s reform agenda. But we had no role to play in his election,” he said.
Sebaht Nega was commenting to a presentation by Berekt Simoen, another retired figure of the EPRDF who claimed that one of the reasons for the escalating violence in the country is the increasing foreign intervention. Berekt named the Eritrean president Isaias Afewerki as an example whom he said was meddling in the country’s internal affairs, mentioning his “Game over for TPLF officials” remark.
In a reaction to Bereket, Sebhat Nega took the charge even further, implicating Donald Yamamoto, a senior African diplomat in the Trump administration and currently serving as U.S. ambassador to Somalia in directly involving in Abiy’s election as chairman of the ruling party on March 2018. “Many of us have opposed that intervention, saying the US would not choose a chairman for us, including you, Bereket,” he said. “Who was that American ambassador who has a Japanese face? He came in person and we knew that he was officially engaged in the election process,” Sebhat said.
Main Image: U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor. Courtesy of the US Embassy website