President Yoweri Museveni has Monday held a meeting with a delegation of government officials of Ethiopia, where over the past weeks tensions have been simmering.
President Museveni has recently offered to mediate talks between the Ethiopian Government forces led by Prime Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Sporadic fighting between forces loyal to the government and the TPLF has so far claimed hundreds of lives, and a full blown war is said to be imminent.
This morning, Museveni met with the Ethiopian Delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen Hassen.
The meeting took place at Gulu State Lodge, before the president set off for this reelection campaign in the region.
“Our discussion focused on the peace and security issues affecting Ethiopia currently. Being one of the oldest countries that was not colonized in Africa, Ethiopia is the pride of the continent,” Museveni said in a statement after the meeting.
“A war in Ethiopia would give the entire continent a bad image. Africa’s problem is that we never discuss ideology, focusing so much on diplomacy. I totally disagree with politics that focuses on ethnic federalism. We must emphasize the issue of oneness and common interests because it is the only way we can prosper.”
Museveni, who has previously supported Ethiopia’s ambitious infrastructure projects including the construction of the renaissance dam against the chagrin of Egypt, is a highly regarded figure in Ethiopia.
He is among the few leaders who live in the presidential palace whenever in Ethiopia.
Museveni closely worked with TPLF which held power for about 30 years.
On Sunday morning, reports indicated that TPLF had fired rockets from northern Ethiopia, hitting Eritrea’s capital, Asmara.
The Ethiopian government’s emergency task force was quoted by international media as saying the rockets had been fired towards the cities of Bahir Dar and Gondar, in Amhara state, late on Friday.
One rocket hit the airport in Gondar and partially damaged it, while a second fired simultaneously landed just outside of the airport in Bahir Dar, an official told Reuters news agency.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace laureate, ordered the government offensive after accusing the rival Tigray People’s Liberation Front of launching an attack against Ethiopia’s military last week.
Thousands of people have been displaced, as government planes bomb targets in the Tigray region.
Sources told ChimpReports on Sunday that several African leaders asked Museveni to intervene in the Ethiopia crisis with the view of avoiding a spillover in the Horn of Africa.
The unravelling conflict is a result of a power struggle that goes back to 2018, when a popular uprising brought Abiy to power.
He ushered in democratic reforms and negotiated an end to what had become a cold war with neighboring Eritrea.
But he also dismantled Ethiopia’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which had run the country for almost 30 years.
The EPRDF, which appointed Abiy, was a coalition of ethnically based political parties. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front dominated the coalition and had amassed a lot of power as an ethnic minority. Tigrayans make up about 6% of Ethiopia’s population.
But things worsened dramatically once COVID-19 hit Ethiopia, the African continent’s second-largest country by population. Abiy was supposed to guide the country through its first truly democratic elections this summer. But citing the pandemic, he postponed them.
The TPLF argued that amounted to an unconstitutional extension of the federal government’s term.
So they defied Abiy’s orders, created their own electoral commission and held their own regional elections. The federal government declared the Tigray elections unconstitutional and both sides began trading accusations of illegitimacy.
For more than a week, Ethiopian government forces have been fighting against a powerful regional government in the country’s north and hundreds are reported to have died.