Eritrea: monthly report November 2023

Abiy Ahmed reviewed his statements on the issue of access to the Red Sea. Following last month's claims, the Prime Minister declared that Addis Ababa will not use force to secure access to the sea during a speech on Armed Forces Day. "There are fears that Ethiopia may invade neighboring countries after our requests for access to the sea. I want to assure that we will not pursue our interests through war. We are committed to pursuing common interests through dialogue and negotiation," the prime minister said. Meanwhile, clashes continued in the Amhara region. The federal army has regained control of the city of Labilela, previously occupied by the Amhara self-defense group FANO. Despite the recapture of the UNESCO-protected town, the humanitarian situation in the region continues to worsen due also to a malaria epidemic affecting the area. The death toll is particularly severe: according to the UN Human Rights Office, Ethiopian armed forces' bombings have led to the deaths of around 20 civilians in the last month. UN officials in the country reported that the attacks have also targeted civilian sites such as a bus stop and a school. In the meantime, the government has resumed negotiations with the Oromo Liberation Army in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. Despite expectations, even this second round of talks ended inconclusively, with both parties citing significant divergences among parties. In this context, the USA has resumed the delivery of humanitarian aid to Ethiopia. USAid announced the decision, citing the reforms implemented by the Addis Ababa government to prevent the misappropriation of aid. The resumption of aid comes at a particularly delicate time for the country which negotiated a suspension of public debt payments last week.

Negotiations supported by Saudi Arabia on the Sudan conflict have resumed. Representatives of the regular army (SAF) and the RSF have met again in Jeddah to discuss conflict resolution and the humanitarian situation in the country. US diplomatic representatives also participated in the summit. However, this new round of talks failed to reach an agreement between the parties for a cessation of hostilities. The talks concluded with general commitments regarding the safe passage of humanitarian aid, maintaining communication between RSF and SAF, and the commitment to arrest escapees from prisons. On the ground, Hemedti's RSF declared they had taken control of the army's headquarters in El-Geneina, the capital of Western Darfur. If confirmed, the militias would control three-quarters of the Darfur region. In this context, Sovereign Council President Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan continued his shuttle diplomacy in the region. Al-Burhan attended the Saudi Arabia - Africa summit in Riyadh, where he had a meeting with Mohammed Bin Salman, renewing his commitment to the progress of the Jeddah process for a ceasefire. On the sidelines of the same summit, Al-Burhan met with the South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir. Finally, Al-Burhan visited Nairobi, where he met Kenyan President William Ruto. After the bilateral meeting, Ruto announced that he would work for the convening of an emergency IGAD summit to expedite the Jeddah process for a cessation of hostilities. Subsequently, Al-Burhan met Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and African Union President Moussa Fakhi Mohammed in Addis Ababa. The Sovereign Council President informed his counterparts of the government's efforts in the war against the RSF and reiterated his openness to collaborate with major regional authorities for a conflict resolution.

South Sudan is working to reach a diplomatic solution to the ongoing war in Sudan. Juba hosted representatives of civil parties for a series of "consultative" talks on the crisis in preparation for the peace conference, the date of which is yet to be determined. Presidential Adviser Tut Gatluak Manime made the announcement in an interview with the Sudan Tribune, emphasizing that President Kiir is managing the negotiations based on his vision to bridge the gap between RSF and SAF. Subsequently, Salva Kiir met with Ethiopian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen in Juba, discussing diplomatic efforts for the resolution of the war in Sudan. Later, Kiir visited Cairo for a two-day visit during which he met with President Al-Sisi. The ongoing war in Sudan was at the center of the summit, with both parties emphasizing their commitment to finding a diplomatic solution involving all neighboring countries of Khartoum.

Meanwhile, the conflict has reopened in the Abyei region contested between Sudan and South Sudan. According to local sources, 32 people, including a UN peacekeeper, have died after armed groups and individuals wearing the uniforms of the South Sudanese army reportedly attacked the region twice. The Abyei region, rich in oil, has been contended between the two countries since South Sudan's independence in 2011.

Kenya financial crisis continued to worsen. Finance Minister Njuguna Ndung'u stated that the combination of high-interest rates and the depreciation of the Kenyan shilling has put the country's finances in a critical situation, considering that Nairobi will have to pay its public debt soon. Concerning the cost of living crisis, the finance minister stated that the inflation increase is related to supply chain issues and not to the government's management. In this context, the IMF has announced a "staff-level" agreement with Nairobi to unlock a tranche of $682 million in aid needed to pay its Eurobond due in June. According to the agreement, delegations have also agreed to increase the credit line for the African country by $980 million. This month, the World Bank announced that Nairobi's debt had reached $9 billion, while, according to the Central Bank of Kenya, loans from multilateral institutions exceeded $10 billion.

Finally, Somalia secures a new loan from the IMF. Recognizing the work done by Mogadishu authorities in improving tax collection and traceability, as well as opening the national economy to private investment, IMF has granted an additional loan of $100 million. The announcement comes at a particularly significant time for Mogadishu, whose state budget will exceed a billion dollars in expenditure for the first time since the beginning of the civil war in 1992.

Download the November 2023 report

President Mattarella’s visit to Nairobi: how Italy is relaunching its partnership with Kenya (and the Horn of Africa as a whole)

The visit of Italy’s President of the Republic to Kenya comes at a historic moment when the eyes of the world are on the region. Between symbolic and pragmatic, the visit puts Africa back at the heart of Italian foreign policy.

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