Ethiopia says US war-crime allegations 'inflammatory and partisan'

Ethiopia war crime

In this file photo taken on November 09, 2018 a man holds National flags of Eritrea (left) and Ethiopia as he waits for the arrival of Eritrea's President at the airport in Gondar, nothern Ethiopia. The governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea on March 21, 2023 angrily rejected US claims their forces had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the devastating two-year war in Tigray.

Photo credit: AFP

Ethiopia's government has accused the United States (US) of taking a "partisan" approach by alleging that its forces, and Eritrean troops, had committed war crimes during the two-year conflict in Tigray.

"The US statement is inflammatory," the foreign ministry said in a statement dated March 21, a day after Washington accused all parties to the conflict of committing war crimes but singled out Ethiopian, Eritrean and regional Amhara forces for crimes against humanity, without mentioning the Tigrayan rebels.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who last week made his first visit to Ethiopia since a breakthrough November 2022 peace deal between the federal government and Tigrayan rebels, on Monday made a forceful call for accountability on his return to Washington.

He said the State Department carried out a "careful review of the law and the facts" and concluded that war crimes were committed by federal troops from both Ethiopia and its ally Eritrea as well as by the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and forces from the neighbouring Amhara region.

"Many of these actions were not random or a mere byproduct of war. They were calculated and deliberate," Blinken said as he presented an annual US human rights report.

Blinken added that the State Department also found crimes against humanity by Ethiopian, Eritrean and Amhara forces, including killings and sexual violence, although he did not mention the TPLF.

Apportions blame

Ethiopia's foreign ministry said the US statement "unfairly apportions blame among different parties in the conflict".

"This partisan and divisive approach from the US is ill-advised," it said, calling it "unwarranted" and unhelpful to the peace process.

The war badly soured US relations with Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous nation and long one of Washington's major partners on the continent.