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Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, His Excellency Andrew Gbebay Bangali on Thursday 28th June 2012 as Chair of the Permanent Representatives’ Sub Committee on Headquarters and Host Agreements presided over complaints filed by the Embassies of Ghana and Eritrea on the alleged abuse of the privileges and immunities of its officials to the Commission by the host country.
The meeting also discussed the consideration of unresolved issues from the Commission on the implementation of the Headquarters Agreement.
The Ghanaian delegation was quick to inform the gathering that the matter between them and the host country had been resolved and this was confirmed by Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the African Union, Her Excellency Ambassador Konjit Sinegiorgis who stated that such an unfortunate situation will never occur again.
Some delegations had wanted Ambassador Sinegiorgis to proffer some comments as to why the matter was settled between the two countries without the Sub Committee not providing an oversight in the resolution of the matter.
Ambassador Bangali overruled on the grounds that the Sub Committee is not a court of law adding that if the two countries had settled the matter amicably, the case should be considered as closed.
On the protest made by the Eritrean Embassy, some delegations suggested that the Envoy of the State of Eritrea to the African Union, Ambassador Girma Asmerom should be invited to the Committee’s next meeting despite the latter not being a member of the Committee since their complaints will be on the agenda for discussion.
Ambassador Sinegiorgis objected that it was inappropriate for the Committee to invite Eritrea because the Mission had filed their complaint and they had been responded to, however, Ambassador Bangali opined that Ethiopia’s objection can be taken under advice before the next meeting.
“Ethiopia and Eritrea are two sister countries. It is unfortunate that this is happening. Eritrea is not accredited to the Ethiopian Government but the African Union Commission,” she said.
Other issues which were raised during the meeting included: The yellow ID cards issued to newly recruited international staffers of the Commission, which are also the same IDs that are issued to domestic staff of diplomats, VAT exemption, the USD 100, 000 license fees for the usage of the Commission’s satellite antenna, the non availability of money transfer out of Ethiopia through Western Union, among others.
Ambassador Sinegiorgis made it very clear that the issues raised can’t be treated automatically as she needed time to cross check with the relevant authorities and come back to the Committee.
On 29th June, Ambassador Bangali attended a briefing session organized by the Commission at its new Conference Centre on the state of preparedness of the Ethiopian Government ahead of the African Union July Summit.
Different delegations asked questions, sought clarifications and expressed their concerns during the meeting which was addressed by Ambassador Sinegiorgis and the Director of Protocol from the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Ethiopian Government.
The meeting was attended by Mr. Amadu Koroma, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Head of Mission to Ethiopia, Mrs. Juliana Fallah and Mr. Christopher Bockarie First and Second Secretaries respectively in the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Addis Ababa.
On the same day, Ambassador Bangali received in audience, Dr. Fareed Arthur, a Political Advisor in the Office of the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The main thrust of the meeting was to brief Sierra Leone’s multi-accredited Emissary about the upcoming African Union Commission, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of Sierra Leone’s Capacity Building for Results AUC/UNECA Meeting slated for 3rd and 4th July, 2012 in Addis Ababa.
He said the meeting is also aimed at building the capacity of the Office of the President on change management and, to make quick gains before the forth-coming elections in line with President Koroma’s Agenda for Change.
He said that a two man delegation from the President’s Office will be attending the meeting.
Responding, Ambassador Bangali said that he had discussed with the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, His Excellency Mr. Erastus Mwencha in order to do something before the arrival of President Koroma for the African Union Summit.
He said he was part of the joint AU/ECA delegation which left Addis Ababa for the launch of the programme in Sierra Leone in 2010.
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