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EU set to send election observers to Ethiopia despite Tigray conflict

The European Union is set to send an election observation mission to monitor Ethiopia’s elections in June, the EU’s chief diplomat said on Monday (19 April), despite the ongoing war in the country’s northern Tigray province.

Speaking after a videoconference with EU foreign ministers, the bloc’s High Representative on foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, said that EU election observers would be sent “unless the situation deteriorates further”.

A final decision will be made in the coming weeks, he added.

Fighting between government forces and rebels from the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which began last November, had created a “dire humanitarian situation,” Borrell continued.

“Progress remains very limited,” he added, saying it was “impossible to imagine” that Tigray would take part in the elections.

Soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea must “immediately” withdraw from Tigray, he stressed.

During the meeting, foreign ministers received a report from the Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, following his second mission to Ethiopia as Borrell’s EU envoy. Haavisto went to Tigrayan capital Mekele and had reported the urgent need for a ceasefire, said Borrell.

Haavisto’s first mission to Ethiopia as Borrell’s EU envoy in February had prompted an angry reaction from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government, which accused the Finnish minister of refusing to meet with Ethiopian ministers and of not going to Tigray.

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