Ambassador Andrew Bangali, Sierra Leone’s Envoy to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on Thursday 7th January 2013 bitterly complained that the hike in the prices of hotels whenever there is a Summit in Addis Ababa is tantamount to broad day light robbery, extortion and fraud at the highest degree.
He filed the complaint when the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC) met at the African Union Commission New Conference Centre to do a logistical and substantive evaluation of the recently concluded Twentieth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union Summit.
Ambassador Bangali cited Sheraton Hotel where Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Dr. Samura Kamara stayed and the Minister paid close to USD 1,000 per night.
“My Foreign Minister stayed one day after the Summit because he had another meeting to attend, the rate at Sheraton Hotel was automatically reversed to USD 326 per night which is the normal rate per night,” he observed.
Ambassador Bangali requested that something needed to be done immediately in order to address this painful exploitative and criminal practice.
He also raised the issue of the official car assigned to the Foreign Minister by the Ethiopian Government which he described as decrepit, adding that the vehicle broke down twice and the Foreign Minister was left with no alternative but to be riding in his representational car for his entire stay.
The Malian, Namibian, Burkinabe, Congolese and the Sudanese delegations, among others, supported the views earlier expressed by Ambassador Bangali regarding the poor quality of cars assigned to their Foreign Ministers. The delegations also vented out their utmost dissatisfaction in the way and manner some of their principals were treated during the Summit.
Mauritius Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union Commission, His Excellency Mahendr Dosieah said his Deputy Prime Minister and spouse felt out of place when they attended the State Banquet organized by the Ethiopian Government. He said that the couple had no option but to storm out of the ceremony.
On her part the Liberian Ambassador, Her Excellnecy Madam Vivienne Titi Wreh spoke about the need for firm security arrangements to be put in place at the Multi Purpose Complex Hall whenever the Heads of State were entering and exiting the hall.
She said that in the future there should be a clearly demarcated entrance and exit routes for the Heads of State to avoid unnecessary confusion and pushing around.
The Chairperson of the PRC and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the African Union Commission, Her Excellency Madam Kongit Sinegiorgis pointed out that she appreciated the concerns raised by various delegations on the shortcomings of the Summit and promised that such will not happen again.
Responding, Mr. Mehireteab Mulugeta, the Director General of Protocol in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia said the comments raised so far had placed them in a better position to plan for the upcoming African Union Jubilee celebration in May this year.
He said they held prior meetings with the hoteliers before the Summit but that they had no control over their prices, adding that “this time we are planning to engage them in order to discourage such practices”.
In the case of the vehicle assigned to Foreign Minister Dr. Samura Kamara, he acknowledged that the compliant was brought to his notice, but that it was too late to change the car and fit it with the necessary accreditation passes for use by the Foreign Minister.
Mr. Mulugeta also dilated on the issue of the Deputy Premier of Mauritius which he stated the latter requested that his spouse be seated by his side during the State Banquet. After his appeal was turned down, they left the hall followed by his Ambassador.
The meeting was also attended by Sierra Leone’s Deputy Chief of Mission to Ethiopia, Mr. Amadu Koroma; Mrs. Juliana Fallah and Mr. Christopher Bockarie, First and Second Secretaries respectively in the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Addis Ababa.
Abdul Karim Koroma
Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone