US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expected in Kenya over Ethiopian humanitarian crisis

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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is expected in Kenya on Tuesday night for talks with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta over the crisis in neighbouring Ethiopia and Sudan as well as Kenya’s General elections due in August next year.

In his first visit to Africa, Blinken will seek to emphasise the need for Africa to intervene fast to avert US-led sanctions against Ethiopia, which has been embroiled in a yearlong war with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a rebel movement that has threatened to overrun the capital Addis Ababa. He will also seek to use Kenya’s regional might and membership at the United Nations Security Council to push for the restoration of civilian rule in Sudan.

So can Kenya succeed where others have failed?

The shuttle diplomacy between Addis Ababa and Nairobi where Blinken will meet President Kenyatta continued on Sunday. On Sunday, the Kenyan head of state met Ethiopia’s President Sahle Wok Zewde, Prime Minister Abiy as well representatives of various political parties. Details of the meetings were not shared, as Kenyatta’s office told SABC News the meetings were private.

The meetings pointedly came hours before Blinken was to begin a tour of Africa, beginning with Kenya where the issue of the conflict in Ethiopia will dominate talks.

Last week, Kenyatta called for dialogue between the warring faction in the country. His sentiments have been echoed by African Union Mediator and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who said in a statement that he was hopeful a solution between the warring factions in the country would be reached.

Obasanjo says while all sides to the conflict agree to end the fighting, the manner in which a ceasefire should be reached is in contention.

While Addis Ababa want an immediate cessation of hostilities and recognition of the government, the rebels want a transitional government put in place that includes all actors, including them.

The US has previously said that there still remains a small window of opportunity to find peace in the country. It has said it would support Africa’s mediation efforts, but has also threatened sanctions. The Ethiopian government has been locked in a year-long battle with Tigrayan rebels who have in recent days said they plan to seize the capital Addis Ababa.

Thousands have been killed in the year-long war and more than two million have been displaced in what is now a humanitarian crisis.

Blinken will also seek to see a return to civilian rule in Sudan where a coup took place last month.

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