Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
The Oromo Liberation Front on Friday called for an interim federal government of national unity in Ethiopia following what it described as an ‘unacceptable election’ that achieved nothing to heal internal divisions in the East African nation.
“To pave the way to start a serious an all-inclusive political dialogue among the stakeholders, work to establish an interim body like the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) Salvation Government, we call upon the Ethiopian National Defense Force and the President of the FDRE to work toward securing peace and the establishment of the FDRE Salvation Government,” OLF said in a statement.
The organization also called on all parties to “immediately stop the wars and conflicts across the country” and for the withdrawal of the Eritrean troops and their security personnel from Ethiopia.
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“We call upon the Ethiopian peoples and all political entities to carry out their duties and responsibilities accordingly. We urge the international communities and the peoples in Ethiopia to pressure all the stakeholders to establish a transitional system that paves the way for political dialogue. Lastly, we want to be clear that the Oromia Regional Transitional government (ORNTG), will work with all Nations and Nationalities to bring about peace and stability to the country and all efforts to achieve meaningful political dialogue,” added OLF.
OLF said the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali continued to push for the recently held ‘national election’ to maintain “the status quo at any cost that potentially enables them to remain in power.”
“Once again, the OLF highlights that the process and the outcome of the election held on June 21, 2021, were unacceptable by any standard. Few political parties have participated in the election while knowing its intentions and irregularities mainly caused by government structures,” OLF said. “Hence, we call upon those political parties to refrain from inciting any violence on differences over issues of trickery of the election and its outcome. Inciting any public unrest on such issue is both politically and morally unacceptable. Instead, it is now the time to seek solutions for the crises facing our peoples and the country.”
Call for President Biden to act:
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch called on the Biden administration to help bolster accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, as well as crimes against humanity and acts of genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar, and other atrocities committed elsewhere.
More broadly, the human rights organization called on the United States to reaffirm support for justice for victims of grave international crimes around the world.
It asserted that as the Biden administration renews the United States’ commitment to multilateralism, it should ensure that support for accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide is a key component of a human-rights-focused foreign policy.
In the 27-page report, “Essential Proposals to the Biden Administration to Advance International Justice,” the organization outlined five areas in which the United States can demonstrate a consistent commitment to justice for victims of atrocities.
It also urged the US government to support the International Criminal Court (ICC), other international or hybrid institutions like the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic, and national prosecutions, including those brought under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
“President Biden has signaled a renewed commitment to work with allies and participate in multilateral institutions,” said Liz Evenson, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “Supporting justice for victims of the most serious international crimes should be at the forefront of the administration’s commitment. As a component of the rule of law, international justice strengthens cooperation across governments and is central to the fight against impunity worldwide.”
On Wednesday, the United States said it was “gravely concerned by reports that dozens of civilians were killed or injured during a bombing of a village market in northern Tigray on June 22.”
“We strongly condemn this reprehensible act,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement from Washington D.C. on behalf of the Biden administration.
Price added that “there are also credible reports that security forces denied medical personnel access to the victims of this terrible attack.”
“Denying victims urgently needed medical care is heinous and absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “We urge the Ethiopian authorities to ensure full and unhindered medical access to the victims immediately.”
“We also call for an urgent and independent investigation, as well as remedial action, to hold those responsible for this attack accountable. The United States again urges an immediate ceasefire in Tigray, unhindered humanitarian access, and protection for civilians,” Price added.
Credible reports said on Wednesday that an airstrike killed dozens of people in Ethiopia’s Tigray region on Tuesday and health workers were blocked from traveling to the scene.
The airstrike hit a busy market in the village of Togoga with some reports citing more than 80 civilians bombed to death.
Human Rights Watch said the ways to support human rights violations around the world, including in Ethiopia, include supporting UN-mandated investigative mechanisms and US reengagement with the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has an essential role to play in promoting justice.
“Promoting accountability through criminal prosecutions is critical for victims and their families to obtain justice and plays a role in ending cycles of violence,” the organization said, noting that the US support has been critical to effective justice processes in countries around the world, from Bosnia to Sierra Leone.
Human Rights Watch asserted that “despite expressed bipartisan support for international justice, the US position on the ICC, the centerpiece of this evolving system, has changed over the last several administrations. It has ranged from initial hostility under the George W. Bush administration to more open support and cooperation under the Obama administration. Under the Trump administration, the US levied punitive measures against ICC staff, including financial sanctions and entry bans, in an effort to thwart investigations in Afghanistan and Palestine.”
It added that when President Biden “removed these unprecedented penalties in April 2021, he began what could be an overdue process of restoring US credibility on international justice.”
“As the court of last resort, the ICC has a critical role to play and the Biden administration should not allow narrow concerns about certain investigations to undermine its broader commitment to accountability,” Evenson said. “The Biden administration should demonstrate it is serious about a human-rights-centered foreign policy by standing with its allies in supporting justice for victims of serious international crimes and making ICC cooperation the rule.”