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Cablegate: H.R. 2003 Impedes Article 98 Ratification

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DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E; AF/RSA: MBITTRICK AND KMOODY; PM/SNA:
PJANZEN; L/PM: MCOFFEE; L/T: LALLDER; AND H: JHAGAN
CJTF-HOA AND USCENTCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KTIA PREL EAID PGOV ET
SUBJECT: H.R. 2003 IMPEDES ARTICLE 98 RATIFICATION

1. (SBU) Acting MFA Director General for Legal Affairs Ato
Minelik Alemu told Charge on October 11 that the unanimous
passage of H.R. 2003 (The Ethiopian Democracy and
Accountability Act) on October 2 by the U.S. House of
Representatives has made it effectively impossible for the
Ethiopian Government (GoE) to seek formal ratification of the
Article 98 Agreement signed between the U.S. and Ethiopia.
Passage of H.R. 2003, Ato Minelik explained, has made it
politically impossible for the GoE to table the Agreement
before parliament for ratification. If it were submitted for
ratification, he speculated, it would be rejected
overwhelmingly by the ruling party-majority parliament which
sees the House's passage of H.R. 2003 as a slap in the face.
Without being presented to parliament for ratification,
however, the Agreement remains provisionally in force in
Ethiopia as it has since it was originally signed in October
2004.

2. (SBU) In response to the Charge's emphasis that the United
States Government would like final ratification of the
Agreement, Ato Minelik confirmed that the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs would explore the possibility of an exchange of notes
in which Ethiopia could confirm that the Agreement
effectively does have, and will continue to have, the full
force of law until the agreement is formally ratified.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: In a separate meeting, State Minister for
Foreign Affairs Dr. Tekeda Alemu expressed to Charge and a
visiting Senate StaffDel that while still in draft form, the
bill was an offense to the GoE and its strong partnership
with the United States, the fact that the House of
Representatives approved the bill unanimously has caused the
GoE to seriously question if Washington takes Ethiopia
seriously and the future of our bilateral relations.
Ratification of the Article 98 Agreement, therefore, stands
as the first confirmed casualty in the U.S.-Ethiopia
bilateral relationship stemming from passage of H.R. 2003.
If and how the Senate takes up this issue will likely have a
direct impact on spurring or impeding other GoE reactions
that could take a significant toll on U.S. interests in
Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. End Comment.
MALAC

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