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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was sworn in for a new five-year term on Monday amidst the ongoing war in the northern part of the country.
Once seen as a regional peacemaker, Nobel prize winner Abiy’s bellicose administration could further isolate the country.
African heads of state from Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and neighboring Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and South Sudan attended the ceremony in Addis Ababa. Sudan, notably, was not in attendance, as there have been escalations in border tensions.
His ballot-box victory in June was presented as affirmation by Abiy’s Prosperity Party for the democratic reforms he has put into place since 2018.
But any positivity during his administration has been overshadowed by the ongoing war in the northern Tigray region of the country, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and who are now subjected to a famine, according to the UN.
The war began last November when Abiy accused the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group of attacking federal army camps, as the federal army began fighting in the area.
The UN has repeatedly said that the Tigray region is entering famine phase as the government continues to block humanitarian aid into the area. Amidst heavy criticism from the United States, Europe and other governments, the Ethiopian foreign ministry kicked out seven senior UN officials last week.
They reportedly left the country on Sunday.
More than 40 countries signed a joint statement that was read out on Monday at the UN headquarters in Geneva regarding the expelled officials.
"Their work is vital in responding to the multiple humanitarian crises that Ethiopia is facing, and to the continuing reports of human rights violations and abuses," according to the statement read out by Simon Manley, the UK's ambassador to the UN in Geneva.
Ethiopian officials say that the governments who decry their stance have continually ignored the human rights abuses committed by the TPLF, who were the former party in power.
"There has been an effort to destabilise our sovereignty, unity and societal co-existence," President Sahle-Work Zewde told lawmakers after Abiy’s swearing-in ceremony.
"However, those Ethiopians who won't negotiate on their country's pride and existence have managed to foil the conspiracy devised to destroy Ethiopia by external enemies and domestic traitors," she added.
Abiy was expected to speak Monday afternoon at a mass rally in Meskel Square in central Addis Ababa.
A joint investigation on the ongoing conflict that was carried out by the UN human rights office and the state-run Ethiopian Human Rights Commission will be released on 1 November.