New US Africa envoy to visit Ethiopia and Sudan

US envoy, assistant secretary to meet leaders and civil society actors during severe crises in the two African nations.

Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Satterfield, speaks during the 11th Annual International Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Conference in Tel Aviv, Israel January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Satterfield, the former US ambassador to Turkey, was appointed to replace Jeffrey Feltman as special envoy to the Horn of Africa on January 6 [File: Amir Cohen/Reuters]

The new United States envoy to the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, and Assistant Secretary Molly Phee will visit Sudan and Ethiopia next week amid continuing crises in the two African nations.

The American officials will also travel to Saudi Arabia.

Satterfield and Phee will visit Khartoum, where they will meet with Sudanese pro-democracy activists, women’s and youth groups, civil organisations, and military and political figures, a State Department statement said on Friday.

The pair will meet with the Friends of Sudan, a group calling for the restoration of the country’s transitional government following a military coup in October.

The meeting aims to “marshal international support” for the United Nations mission to “facilitate a renewed civilian-led transition to democracy” in Sudan, according to the statement.

Huge crowds have regularly taken to the streets in Sudan demanding a return to civilian rule since an October 25 coup ended a power-sharing arrangement that began in 2019.

“Their message will be clear: the United States is committed to freedom, peace, and justice for the Sudanese people,” the statement said.

In Ethiopia, the pair will talk with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to seek a resolution to the deepening civil war.

“They will encourage government officials to seize the current opening for peace by ending the air strikes and other hostilities,” the statement read.

They will also ask for the establishment of a ceasefire, the release of political prisoners and the restoration of humanitarian access.

Satterfield, the former US ambassador to Turkey, was appointed to replace Jeffrey Feltman as special envoy on January 6.

The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which last year threatened to march on Addis Ababa, by December had withdrawn to its stronghold, and the government has not pursued the rebels further on the ground.

Feltman quit just as he visited Ethiopia in a bid to encourage peace talks to end more than a year of war following the withdrawal of Tigrayan rebels.

Feltman had also sought to tackle the crisis in Sudan, but he was treated unceremoniously in October when Sudan’s military ruler, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, carried out a coup just after the US envoy had left the country.

Feltman’s resignation came days after Sudan’s civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, quit, leaving Burhan as the undisputed leader of the country despite Western calls to preserve a democratic transition launched in 2019.

Source: News Agencies