It is a rarity for a developing country like Ethiopia to host foreign ministers from…

It is a rarity for a developing country like Ethiopia to host foreign ministers from three countries within a week, unless they gather for a state conference of sorts. When two of these ministers are among the most powerful contending powers in the world, the purpose of their visits is a subject of intense speculation and serves as a goldmine for those keen on conspiracy theories.

The American Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was in Addis Abeba mid-last week, as part of his five-nation tour in Africa. Despite a widespread belief that he was here to sort out the political quagmire and tell the Revolutionary Democrats to their face that their time is up, the Americans were jetting through Africa to heal the damages their president may have caused due to his offending statement a while back, gossip claims.

They were more interested in talking with the Ethiopian authorities about issues about military deployment in Somalia and the influx of refugees from South Sudan, gossip disclosed. Expectedly, the Secretary had to face the media, whose corps were interested in getting sound bites on the emergency decree, about which he said his country would like to see it shortened.

If there was any tussle between the two parties, it was only on protocol matters and on whether the US eagle should be placed on both sides of the podium, minutes before Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD) and Tillerson gave a joint press briefing, gossip says. The Ethiopian side won the day by having secured the placement of Ethiopia’s federal emblems, challenging the guests’ sense of entitlement, gossip said.

If anything, what brought Secretary Tillerson and his team was the alarm over the overarching influence of China on the continent, which is more of a motivating factor than the expansion of Russian influence elsewhere, gossip says. The United States is displeased with Djibouti over its decision to let the Chinese get a piece of the military real estate there, gossip disclosed.

The Russians, who suffer from sanctions imposed on them by the West, were also touring Africa but to promote their commercial interests, particularly of military hardware stuff, gossip revealed. The day after Tillerson had arrived in Addis Abeba, Sergei Lavrov landed at Bole International Airport, casually dressed in jeans and a white shirt.

Immediately after his arrival at 5:00pm, Lavrov had spent about an hour and a half having dinner with his American counterpart, Tillerson, inside an Italian restaurant at the Sheraton, where both had stayed, gossip unveiled.

It was the same hotel where the Foreign Minister from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, had stayed, during the days his counterparts from the United States and Russia were here. But his entourage had to fight against the hotel’s management refusal of letting hookahs (Shisha) inside, before Ethiopian authorities intervened, gossip disclosed.

Expectedly, the ministers have met with Hailemariam Desalegn, the outgoing Prime Minister. It will be his last high-level audience with foreign dignitaries, for he will give up the newly built and ultra-complex residence inside the Menelik II Palace in a week or two, gossip foretells.

The Revolutionary Democrats will have their Executive Committee meeting today, a start of a long process to elect a new chairperson.

For the first time in the history of the EPRDF, the meeting will be chaired by a deputy, Demeke Mekonnen, who is the most likely candidate to replace Hailemariam, gossip disclosed. Whether he will be elevated to serve as a full-fledged chairman or be installed as both chairman and prime minister until the coming convention will be determined in the next two weeks, gossip claims.

Published on Mar 11,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 933]



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