African Union Probes Twitter Attack on USAID Chief

FILE PHOTO: Samantha Power, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, delivers a speech during a visit to El Salvador at the Central American University in San Salvador, El Salvador June 14, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

The African Union has announced a probe into its Twitter account’s attack on the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, for calling for dialogue to end Ethiopia’s nine-month-old war.

Power had retweeted a post by US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, that called on “all parties to urgently come to the negotiating table.”

Then, she wrote that unless all parties to Ethiopia agree to dialogue and cease hostilities, the humanitarian situation will become even direr.

But the AU’s Twitter account responded cynically, saying “Good Lord, you mean just like the time you sat and talked to ISIS and Taliban?”

The tweet included a hashtag used to refer to fighters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as terrorists, a position also taken by the Ethiopian government.

The post has been deleted, but the AU says it is looking into the matter.

“An (AU) staff member shared personal views on this handle, contrary to AU staff rules. The now-deleted tweet does not reflect the AU position and is viewed as a serious breach of conduct. The incident is being investigated internally,” it said.

A conflict has plagued northern Ethiopia since November, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to topple the regional ruling party, the TPLF, claiming that the move is a reaction to attacks against army camps.

A few weeks later, Abiy claimed victory after taking Mekele, but the rebels kept on fighting and recaptured most of Tigray in late June.

The TPLF has since seized other towns in the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions, including Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Amhara that is home to rock-hewn churches from the Middle Ages.

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