Ethiopia has named a military general who has been the face of the war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front as the new ambassador to Kenya.
General Bacha Debele will take over from Meles Alem-Tekea, the career diplomat who had served in Nairobi since 2019, having started at the station in a junior capacity.
Gen Bacha was on a list released on Thursday by the Foreign Affairs ministry of appointments of ambassadors and deputy heads of missions to 29 countries.
They were appointed by President Sahle-Work Zewde two months ago to countries like Kenya, Egypt, the US and Eritrea.
The post in Nairobi is significant in deploying a military man who had been battling the TPLF forces since 2020, and often spoke for the operations in public appearances. Nairobi has been calling for both parties to choose dialogue and ceasefire. It will be interesting how relations will turn, given Kenya’s plea for the sides to negotiate for peace.
After the outbreak of the Tigray conflict, General Bacha served as the Chief of Army Staff at the Ministry of Defence and was promoted to the rank of general early in January this year.
He was among four senior military officers promoted to generals by the President following their nomination by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
But, Gen Bacha’s posting details following the promotion were not disclosed until Thursday, when the Foreign Affairs ministry revealed he would be heading to Kenya. Workalemahu Desta will deputise him.
Other appointments include Dr Sileshi Bekele, who had served as the Minister of Water, Energy and Irrigation, who will now head Ethiopia’s mission in the United States.
Dr Sileshi is known for his key role in the trilateral negotiations with Sudan and Egypt on Ethiopia’s mega Nile dam project, which the two countries oppose.
“What makes this round of ambassadorial appointments different is that it has created a balance between political appointees and career diplomats,” said the ministry, adding that “some of the ambassadors will reside in Addis Ababa.”
Last year, Ethiopia announced it would close over 30 of its embassies in many countries due to financial constraints, worsened by the prolonged conflict in the Tigray region.
Here is the list of newly appointed ambassadors as well as consul generals and deputy chief of missions and their designated countries.
1. Tefera Derbew – Japan
2. Dessie Dalk – South Korea
3. Dr Sileshi Bekele – USA
4. Bacha Debele - Kenya
5. Hassen Ebrahim - Egypt
6. Daba Debele - Rwanda
7. Jemal Beker - Pakistan
8. Feysel Ali - Qatar
9. Isayas Gota - Morocco
10. Tsegab Derbew - Australia
11. Mihreteab Mulugeta - Sweden
12. Fikadu Beyen - Eritrea
Ambassadors to various countries based in Ethiopia:
13. Tafu Tullu - Brazil
14. Dr Genet Teshome - Cuba
15. Shitaye Minale - Cote-d’Ivoire
16. Professor Fikadu Beyene - Indonesia
17. Reshad Mohammed - Zimbabwe
Assigned as Consul General:
18. Anteneh Taruku - Gedarif
19. Aklilu Kebede - Dubai
20. Seid Mohammed - Hargeisa
21. Awol Wegris - Bahrain
Under the leadership of Deputy Mission:
22. Asaye Alemayehu - Ghana
23. Hailay Birhanu - Germany
24. Bizunesh Meseret - India
25. Yosef Kassaye - New York
26. Zelalem Birhanu - Washington
27. Firtuna Dibako - Belgium
28. Workalemahu Desta - Kenya
29. Wubshet Demisse - England
30. Mulugeta Kelil - Pakistan