Open Society Foundation, the international institution founded by controversial billionaire,George Soros is set to open an office in Addis Ababa.
“We are coming to Ethiopia and are slated to open our office in June (of this year),” Patrick Gaspard, the President of the Open Society Foundations and President Barack Obama’s one-time United States Ambassador to South Africa, told a gathering at Addis Ababa University’s School of Law.
“We are watching the slew of reforms taking place within Ethiopia and we want to be able to support it.”
The foundation has supported liberal initiatives in the world to the tune of more than USD 11 billion.However, it has seen its influence decrease in Eastern Europe and in the United States in the era of President Donald Trump, with the president known to attack George Soros on social media “as a friend of the Clintons”.
The foundationhas been looking at spreading its wings in other parts of the world, including within the African continent.
Most recently, the Hungarian right-leaning, Trump like government of Viktor Orban has pushed it to close its Central European University, forcing it to move to Austria. Michael Ignatieff, the one-time Canadian opposition leader and a Harvard academic and the current president of the university described the closure as one that was forced upon them.
“This is unprecedented. A United States institution has been driven out of a country that is a NATO ally,” he said last year, when the school made its move. “A European institution has been ousted from a member state of the European Union.”
Headquartered in New York, it is no stranger in the world, having its presence in 37 countries. It has been attempting to influence the affairs of the African continent from its South Africa office, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.
Ambassador Gaspard has been a regular visitor of Ethiopia and has so far met and discussed with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) on the issues of reforms in the nation. The foundation has vowed to help Ethiopia fulfill its democratization and justice reforms, on the hills of a historic upcoming election which is expected to happen next year.
Open Society was founded in South Africa in the shadow of the apartheid era of minority rule in 1979.