Tigray authorities condemned the first public visit by US diplomats to Amhara-controlled parts of Tigray as unconstitutional.
The head of Tigray’s Interim Administration, Getachew Reda, slammed the visit to Alamata and Raya as “totally unacceptable,” expressing his fear that it legitimizes the Amhara forces’ “occupation.”
Ethiopia’s constitution stipulates that only the federal government has authority over foreign affairs. This means only Ethiopia’s government can conduct official foreign relations.
It is unclear if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs knew about the US diplomats’ visit.
Getachew described the visit as “sabotaging” his administration’s “overtures for peace.”
However, Dawit Birhanu, public relations officer for the Enat Party, and Moges Eyassu, chief of political affairs for the Alamata Prosperity Party, refused to accept the criticism. They stated that any foreign entity capable of assisting people wherever in Ethiopia is free to go anywhere, which is exactly what the US diplomats did.
Moges supported the visit, saying it allowed diplomats to assess conditions firsthand.
“The diplomats saw people’s emotions in Raya,” he said. “The visit was successful.”
Last Sunday, hundreds of thousands marched in Alamata and Raya demanding government recognition of their Amhara identity.
Dawit criticized the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), saying people have suffered tremendously in the war and “it is time for Alamata to enjoy freedom.”
It remains unclear what impact the diplomats’ visit will have on conflict in Tigray or on US-Ethiopian relations. Dawit argued the visit was regular and does not constitute support for any activity.
For decades, Tigray and Amhara have disputed territories like Welkait-Tegede and Raya, constitutionally part of Tigray but currently ruled by Amhara. The violence has left both populations with profound mistrust, yet observers say “a peaceful resolution is essential for the stability of the disputed areas.”
Attempts to get a response from officials of the Amhara regional government in charge of communication with the press bore no fruit.