Ethiopian Former ministers’ foreign posts revealed

Former ministers came together at the Hilton Addis
Former ministers came together at the Hilton Addis on Friday, November 12, 2010, to enjoy themselves in an intimate gathering organised by the Ethiopian and Addis Abeba chambers of Commerce and Sectoral Associations in honour of Girma Birru, former minister of Trade and Industry (MoTI), who was appointed as a special envoy and ambassador plenipotentiary.(Addis Fortune)

By Kirubel Tadesse, Capital Ethiopia

Seyoum Mesfin, to China and Girma Birru to USA

Posts for the ruling EPRDF senior diplomats, who have recently been appointed as the country’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, have been sealed, Capital has learnt. All of the newly appointed ambassadors, 21 with full authority, have been sworn in before president Girma Wolde Giorgis last Friday.

According to an absolutely impeccable source, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) is soon sending no other than its former head, Seyoum Mesfin, to China.

Seyoum, who leads a group of EPRDF senior figures who first retired from cabinet posts and early this month were appointed as ambassadors, will soon head to China to become Ethiopia’s ambassador and be in charge of the growing Ethio-Sino ties.

Ambassador Seyoum, who was Foreign Affairs Minister for nineteen years only to be replaced by his party colleague Hailemariam Desalegn last month, made multiple visits to China including in the last few months in office.

Loans for Ethiopia’s telecom, roads and power generation sectors has made China Ethiopia’s most valuable trading partner. The latest Growth and Transformation plan that envisages doubling the country’s economy in five years also holds China as a crucial ally. Doubling the economy would first need doubling the agriculture production, which the government says is quite possible if the Chinese-supported 5,000 kilometer railway network becomes a reality.

Seyoum’s long time deputy Dr. Tekeda Alemu is heading far away from his former boss as he soon will become Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Nations. The former state minister will be stationed at the UN headquarters in New York. Though challenged by Beijing, the United States still remains Ethiopia’s number one donor with one billion dollars worth of humanitarian assistance.

To deal with Washington politics, which has proven to be difficult at times, MoFA is sending former Trade and Industry Minister Girma Birru. Girma, who ran and won a parliament seat at the May elections, leading the pubic to believe that he could keep this post only to be seen among the group of retirees shortly after, will manage Ethiopia’s relations with the US.

The government has chosen Girma, a political appointee ambassador, to be in charge of this key bilateral tie that has calmed down after fierce criticism between Addis Ababa and Washington over the latest elections. Although vacant for months, the position Girma claims was previously held by former Addis Ababa lecturer Dr. Samuel Assefa.

Former Minister of Works and Urban Development, Kassu Illala (PhD), a cabinet minister turned diplomat, is heading to Brussels, Belgium, as E
thiopia’s ambassador to the European Union. Fallouts from the EU election observation mission that reported the May elections fell short of international standards, will be awaiting Dr. Kassu on his first days in Brussels.
Former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mohammed Dirir, is heading to the Egyptian capital Cairo as ambassador. Mohammed, who speaks a sizable number of languages including Arabic, will surely be demanded by MoFA to communicate the ‘let us all share Nile water fairly’ message Ethiopians have been making for quite some time now.

Former Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Hassen Abdella, isn’t far from Mohammed in terms of the geopolitics: he will soon be stationed as Ethiopia’s ambassador in Sana’a, Yemen.
Although it’s not known whether former House speaker Ambassador Teshome Toga speaks French or not, it is certain that he is heading to Paris, France, to represent Ethiopia.

Not all Ethiopia’s embassies are getting new bosses: Ethiopia’s London embassy for example will continue to be led by Ambassador Berhanu Kebede.

At the ambassador’s inauguration, Deputy PM and Foreign Affairs Minister Hailemariam, the official they will all have to answer to during the tenure, urged the senior politicians to keep or establish an excellent cooperation with both their host countries and the Ethiopian diaspora in order to achieve the Growth and Transformation Plan goals, which will be their top diplomatic mission.