Embassies: Told not to travel without notice
Caution citizens in Ethiopia

By Hayal Alemayehu (The Reporter)  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday told Embassies and International Organization that they should notify the ministry of any travel plans outside of Addis Ababa to any of the regions.

The ministry in a press release sent to The Reporter said that it had received many requests from embassies and international organizations to partake in the observation and monitoring of the upcoming national elections and has repeatedly denied them as it would make it hard for the ministry to sign a memorandum of understanding with each individually. It said that no one outside of the EU and AU commission has been invited to observe the elections.

According to the press release, all travel plans made by embassies and international organization as of last Monday for a period of 50 days should first be told to the ministry and that it will issue a letter of support for them.

Gavin Cook, spokesperson for the Bristish Embassy said that although they welcome the Ethiopian government’s decision to invite the EU to observe the elections, the Embassy had not made any request to the government to observe the elections.  “We have not applied to observe and are still considering what monitoring we may do ourselves,” he said.

Sources close to the US Embassy said that the US government was contemplating of reciprocating in the same manner by asking Ethiopian Embassy staff to notify them before they travel outside of Washington DC.

Recent exchange of allegations between opposition parties and the government over the intimidations and killings have led to a lot of coverage by foreign media of the elections as being rife with tension.

The French and US embassies issued safety advisories to their citizens living in Ethiopia. In an email to its citizens, the French embassy advised them avoid public places, public transportation systems and to stay away from any demonstrations and public gatherings.

The embassy also warned its citizens to prepare stocks of food, water, electricity sources and fuel ahead of the polling day.

For those out of the capital, Addis Ababa, the Embassy has also announced a 24-hour-ready telephone service through which that they can contact it in emergency cases.
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