Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – An AWEPA delegation led by the organisation’s President, Minister of State Ms. Miet Smet with Hon. Ben Knapen, former Dutch State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Political Coordinator for AWEPA in Ethiopia accompanied by Mr. Innocent Minega, AWEPA Liaison Officer Bilateral Programmes undertook a four day mission to Ethiopia on 9-13 May 2016.
While AWEPA does not currently partner with the Ethiopian Parliament, the organisation seeks to implement a capacity building programme in the country. The objectives of the mission were therefore two-fold:
- To foster AWEPA relations with the Ethiopian Parliament by discussing the potential signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between AWEPA and the House of People’s Representatives;
- To introduce Mr. Knapen, to potential partners in Ethiopia.
Various stakeholders received the delegation, including Hon. Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives; the Netherland’s Ambassador, H.E. Lidi Remmelzwaal; and the Belgian Ambassador, H.E. Didier Nagant de Deuxchaisnes.
The meeting with Hon. Gemeda allowed Ms. Smet to present AWEPA’s overall goals and objectives, its historical background and some of its milestones. The Speaker, for his part, reiterated his institution’s commitment to cooperate with AWEPA and pledged to sign an MOU as soon as AWEPA is ready.
During their meeting in the Netherlands Embassy, the delegation had the opportunity to present its Strategic Partnership with the Netherland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in consortium with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD). Embassy officials shared their experience working in Ethiopia and provided guidance on the way forward as AWEPA seeks to implement a programme in Ethiopia.
The meeting with the Belgian Ambassador was oriented towards creating contact within the Embassy for future engagement if and once AWEPA is operational in Ethiopia.
Through the mission, both Ms. Smet and Hon. Knapen were able to establish contacts within the diplomatic corps and with a number of Ethiopia’s political actors. All stakeholders encouraged AWEPA to begin a capacity building programme which they believe shall contribute to the democratisation process in the Ethiopian Parliament.