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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 16th March 2023

US leans on Abiy to speed up peace deal with Tigray

Blue Lines

The United States' diplomatic campaign in Africa entered its next phase with Secretary of State Antony Blinken's stopovers in Addis Ababa and Niamey from 14-17 March. Blinken is keeping up the pace of high-level visits, promised at last December's US-Africa leaders summit, and preparing the ground for a visit by President Joe Biden this year. Vice-President Kamala Harris is due in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia this month.

Focusing on regional security and trade agreements, as well as countering Beijing's and Moscow's overtures, Blinken met with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Pushing for faster implementation of November's ceasefire deal with Tigray, Blinken offered another US$330 million of humanitarian aid but no commitments on re-admitting Ethiopia to the tariff-free trade scheme under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Much remains to do on the ceasefire: little progress has been made on forming a new administration in Tigray, let alone starting reconstruction work or holding offenders accountable for atrocities on all sides. Nor is there any sign that Abiy can call to order the Eritrean forces who helped defeat the Tigrayans but have stayed outside the terms of the ceasefire. Another pressure point for Washington is in the IMF and the World Bank, as Ethiopia tries to restructure its foreign debt and raise finance to rebuild the war-battered economy.