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Embassies give update briefings on Gabon, Ethiopia and Madagascar for MPs/Peers

On 30 March, BGIPU hosted an African Ambassador Roundtable which was chaired by the Chair of BGIPU, Harriett Baldwin MP. Members received briefings from HE Sanni Aoudou, Ambassador of Gabon; HE Teferi Melesse Desta, Ambassador of Ethiopia; and Mr Tojonirina Ramarolahy, Chargé d’Affaire to Madagascar. The well attended meeting was an important opportunity for UK parliamentarians to hear first-hand accounts of political, social and economic developments in the region.

HE Ambassador Sanni Aoudou took to the floor to explain some of the priorities of Gabon. She detailed the strong commitment within the Gabonese Government to promote women in positions of leadership. Gabon is progressive in terms of female equality and has implemented a variety of legal measures to ensure female inclusion and representation. The Ambassador also spoke about the country’s ambition to become a member of the Commonwealth and wanted the UK to support this endeavour. Lastly, the Ambassador affirmed the country’s dedication to protect the environment; a particularly important subject as nearly 90% of Gabon is covered by forest and the country acts as a carbon sink.

HE Ambassador Teferi Melesse Desta spoke about the important bilateral relationship between the UK and Ethiopia and the need for collaboration at a regional and global level. He spoke about the impact of the reduction of the UK’s ODA budget on his country. Development projects around education, health, support for mothers and infants and other social services have been impeded. The Ambassador also gave updates on the situation in Tigray, a harrowing humanitarian crisis caused by conflict between the Ethiopian government and local authorities. A truce was announced in March 2022 by the Ethiopian Federal Government in the region which Tigrayan authorities have said they will respect on the condition that aid reaches the most vulnerable urgently.

Mr Tojonirina Ramarolahy, Chargé d’Affaire to Madagascar, spoke about the dire famine his country is experiencing. It is the first climate change induced famine officially reported by the UN. The situation is likely to be exacerbated by the war in Ukraine as Russia and Ukraine export around a third of the world’s wheat. On a more positive note, the Chargé explained that the borders of Madagascar are now open and he hopes tourism can resume post-pandemic.

The meeting was very useful and gave the opportunity for productive engagement between Ambassadors and Members of Parliament. There was a clear acknowledgement of the importance of maintaining valuable relationships between Parliamentarians and the diplomatic community in a time of transition and uncertainty as we all move to a post-COVID-19 reality. BGIPU would like to thank the London Embassies for their assistance in coordinating the event, the Ambassadors’ for their informative presentations and the MPs and Peers who attended the meeting.

BGIPU Secretariat