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African Union Chairperson appoints AU Special Envoys to Ethiopia

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African Union Chairperson His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa today received Her Excellency President Sahle-Work Zewde of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, who paid a visit to South Africa in her capacity as Special Envoy of His Excellency Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia.

President Sahle-Work briefed President Ramaphosa. about the conflict in Ethiopia between Tigray and the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia.

President Ramaphosa informed President Sahle-Work Zewde that he, as Chairperson of the AU, as well as the AU family of nations, were deeply concerned about the conflict that has broken out in Ethiopia.

President Ramaphosa expressed his deep desire that the conflict should be brought to an end through dialogue between the parties.

President Ramaphosa informed President Sahle-Work Zewde that as African Union Chairperson he has appointed three Distinguished Statespersons - His Excellency Mr Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique; Her Excellency Madame Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia, and His Excellency Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, former President of the Republic of South Africa - as Special Envoys of the African Union.

The Envoys will travel to Ethiopia with a view to helping to mediate between the parties to conflict in the sister Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

The primary task of the Special Envoys is to engage all sides to the conflict with a view to ending hostilities, creating conditions for an inclusive national dialogue to resolve all issues that led to the conflict, and restoring peace and stability to Ethiopia.

President Ramaphosa observed: “Ethiopia occupies a place of pride and honour in the history of Africa, having successfully resisted colonialism, and played a leading role in the decolonisation of Africa.

“The decision of the Founding Fathers that Africa’s foremost Continental organisation, the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), should be established and headquartered in Addis Ababa, was a fitting tribute to Ethiopia’s role as a symbol of African unity. In keeping with this rich tradition and history, Ethiopia hosts the African Union (AU).

“It is against this background that the ongoing conflict is a matter of great concern not only for countries in the region of the Horn of Africa, but for the continent as a whole.”

President Ramaphosa’s initiative should be viewed against the background of the African Union’s objective of Silencing the Guns, that is intended to achieve a conflict-free Africa, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts, human rights violations, and humanitarian disasters.

The appointment of Special Envoys seeks to help the fraternal people of Ethiopia find a solution to the current problems, in the spirit of solidarity, guided by the dictum of “African solutions for African problems”.

President Ramaphosa has expressed his gratitude to His Excellency Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for accepting this initiative, and affirming the cooperation of the Ethiopian government in facilitating the work the Special Envoys.

In her engagement with the AU Chairperson, President Sahle-Work underlined the special relationship between Ethiopia and South Africa.

She outlined the historical origins of the current conflict and expressed the need for the African Union to assist Ethiopia in finding a solution.

President Ramaphosa welcomed the insights provided by President Sahle-Work as an important contribution to the work that will be undertaken by the AU Special Envoys who are due to travel to Addis Ababa in the coming days.

President Ramaphosa said the AU was not only concerned about the conflict in Ethiopia but wished to contribute to a process that could lead to dialogue and an end to fighting that has cost many lives and extensive displacement of people.

Media enquiries: Tyrone Seale, Acting Spokesperson to President Ramaphosa at

Issued by: The Office of the Chairperson of the African Union