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US Congress Pushes Biden Administration to Enact Sanctions over Tigray Conflict

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 13, 2021

Congressional leaders have called for sanctions to be put in place to pressure Ethiopian and Eritrean forces to withdraw from Tigray.

US congressmen specifically hammered Ethiopia and Eritrea for failing to live up to their March agreement to remove Eritrean forces from Tigray.

The US Congress is pressuring the Biden administration to place sanctions on human rights abusers in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, pointing to the continued failure of Ethiopian and Eritrean forces to withdraw from the region.

“We understand that the Biden administration is reviewing all options, but nothing has been announced or finalised, which is why we are pushing them on this,” a congressional aide told The National on Wednesday. “It has been over six months since the conflict started.”

The Democratic chairman and top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee – Gregory Meeks of New York and Mike McCaul of Texas – are leading the bipartisan push to convince the Biden administration to use its authorities under the Global Magnitsky Act to levy sanctions on those violating human rights in the Tigray conflict.

“The administration has ample authority from Congress to impose sanctions and other means of financial pressure – they just need to do it,” said the congressional staffer.

Mr Meeks and Mr McCaul doubled down on the issue earlier this week with a joint statement urging the Biden administration to “use all available tools, including sanctions and other restrictive measures, to hold all perpetrators accountable and bring an end to this conflict”.

They specifically hammered Ethiopia and Eritrea for failing to live up to their March agreement to remove Eritrean forces from Tigray.

“We are deeply concerned by the failure of the government of Ethiopia and the government of the state of Eritrea to honour their public commitments to withdraw Eritrean forces from Ethiopia,” they said in the statement. “The continued presence of Eritrean forces, who have been credibly implicated in gross violations of human rights in Tigray, is a major impediment to resolving this conflict.”

The congressmen referred to “mounting reports of atrocities against civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence, at the hands of Ethiopian and Eritrean forces and other armed groups”.

Jeffrey Feltman, the US envoy for the Horn of Africa, is in the region this week to mediate the Tigray crisis as well as Ethiopia’s dispute with Sudan and Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has said that “ethnic cleansing” is taking place in Tigray, personally called on Ethiopian and Eritrean forces to withdraw from the region during a phone call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed earlier this month.

The State Department did not reply to The National’s repeated requests for comment on its Tigray sanctions review.

Mr Meeks and Mr McCaul first raised the prospect of sanctions over the Tigrayconflict in a letter to Mr Blinken in March.

“We urge the administration to utilise all available tools, including Global Magnitsky authorities and other targeted sanctions, to hold parties accountable for their actions to bring an end to this crisis,” the congressmen wrote at the time.

Source

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