United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday, and both leaders discussed regional crises, including the situations in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia.
Blinken, who is on his first official visit to Sub-Saharan Africa since he assumed duties earlier this year, called for the Sudanese military one more time to hand power back to ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, restore the entire civilian-led government there and release all political detainees.
“On Sudan, the Secretary encouraged sustained regional efforts to restore Prime Minister Hamdok and the civilian-led transitional government consistent with the Constitutional Declaration, lift the state of emergency, release all civilian detainees since the military takeover, and allow pro-democracy demonstrations to take place peacefully,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Price said Secretary Blinken also underscored the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia and stressed the need for all sides to enter into talks.
The conflict in Ethiopia between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian Defense Force has been going on for a year. The United States, the United Nations and others estimate that hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and millions remain at an increased risk of famine. Thousands more have died.
In recent weeks, the mediation has been led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is acting as the African Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa. Obasanjo is supported by others, including the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman.
But with the security situation worsening, the United States government on Tuesday reiterated its call for American citizens to leave the country while commercial flights are still available.
According to Price, Blinken also “affirmed the commitment of the United States to the people of South Sudan and noted the need for Juba to cooperate in building peace and security.”
On Somalia, Blinken stressed the importance of the completion of Somalia’s national elections by the end of the year and U.S. support for a restructured African Union-led mission to lead international security efforts post-2021,Price added.
The call to restore Hamdok to power came a day after the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Mary Catherine Phee said she had met with Hamdok during a visit in Khartoum on Tuesday to discuss was to restore Sudan’s democratic transition.
Phee also met with army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan during her three-day visit to Sudan.
Sudanese state news agency SUNA later reported that Burhan told Phee that steps for releasing political detainees arrested during the military takeover on October 25 had began.
Malik Agar, a member of the Sovereign Council told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that Hamdok, who has been under house arrest since the takeover, and other detainees would be released within a day or two.