There are concerns that Ethiopian authorities are getting uncomfortable with foreign commentators on the ongoing conflicts in the northern region of Tigray, after an analyst was deported.
On November 21, the Ethiopian authorities deported International Crisis Group’s Ethiopia Senior Analyst William Davison, on grounds that he provided the wrong information for his work permit when he entered the country in 2019.
Mr Davison has been holding regular interviews with various news networks and newspapers since the conflict started on November 4, but ICG now says that it appears that Addis Ababa is uncomfortable with views that are different from its own.
Mr Davison has maintained that the conflict between the federal forces and the TPLF was likely to be long-drawn because the northern forces are battle-hardened and are supported by various militias.
A tweet from the Prime Minister’s office attached a letter dated November 2019, in which Temesgan Tilahun Tsadic, the deputy commissioner for the Improvement Division at the Ethiopian Investment Commission, wrote to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs for a support letter for Mr Davison.
Mr Davison was described as a new employee of the R&D Entrepreneurship and Outsourcing Centre plc, who are helping the commission develop human resource management guidelines for Industrial Parks of Ethiopia.
Robert Malley, the ICG president and chief executive, said that his organisation deeply regrets Mr Davison’s deportation from Ethiopia, at this time when they are working hard to pursue an end to the current conflict.
“If Ethiopia is to make a success of its once-in-a-generation opportunity to transition into a more open and democratic society, it should welcome, rather than seek to stifle, independent voices analysing its politics,” said Mr Malley in a statement posted on the ICG website.
Mr Davison was summoned by immigration officials on November 20 and was told he had to leave the country immediately.
He flew to the UK in the early hours of November 21, after an earlier tweet from the PM’s office said that his work permit had been revoked citing labour law breaches.