The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) convenes an emergency session today. The session, prompted by recent changes in the context of the conflict, is set under a theme ‘update on the situation in Northern Ethiopia’.
The session will receive the statement of the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, after the opening remark by the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November, Mohamed Gad, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the AU. Initially, it was envisaged that former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, who was appointed as the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa in August 2021, would provide the update on the situation in Northern Ethiopia. However, the session may proceed without his briefing due to him traveling to Northern Ethiopia. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as the concerned regional body and Ethiopia, as the country concerned, are also expected to deliver a statement.
It is to be recalled that in March 2021 during the Heads of State Meeting of the PSC, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister presented a ‘Statement to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on the current situation in Northern Ethiopia. The statement was delivered under AOB and as such there was no formal deliberation on the situation. Tomorrow’s session will thus be the first session for the PSC to deliberate on the situation formally.
The session comes against the background of reports of increasing fighting and in a context of reports of declaration by Tigrian forces of taking control of the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha. On 3 November, the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, issued a statement calling for ‘the immediate cessation of hostilities, the full respect for the life and property of civilians, as well as state infrastructure.’ The statement additionally called on ‘the parties to urge their supporters against acts of reprisal against any community, and refrain from hate speech and incitement to violence and divisiveness.’ After reminding ‘their obligations regarding compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, with particular regard to the protection of civilians and ensuring access to humanitarian assistance by communities in need,’ the statement called on ‘the parties to engage with the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President H.E Olusegun Obasanjo.’
In the briefing, it is expected that PSC will be informed about Obasanjo’s engagements on the situation thus far. It is to be recalled that, he briefed the PSC on 28 October broadly on his mandate and plans on execution of the mandate. For purposes of tomorrow’s session, it would be of interest for the PSC to learn about his engagements regarding the situation in Northern Ethiopia, including meetings held with the key stakeholders both in Ethiopia and in the region.