On 5 March 2020, a Facebook user named Natnael Mekonnen (with more than 238,000 followers) posted a picture of Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki claiming they went to Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The text written in Amharic reads “… Dr Abiy Ahmed and the Eritrean President arrived in Juba, South Sudan this afternoon. What the regional hegemon leaders are discussing?”. HaqCheck has interrogated the post and confirmed that the picture doesn’t show a recent event therefore rated it as FALSE.

Granted, there have been armed clashes along the Ethio-Sudanese borders since recently. There have been reports that the countries have been in talks and negotiations to settle the issue and demarcate the boundary. And On 22 December 2020 Demeke Mekonnen, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Ethiopia paid a visit to Khartoum to negotiate with Sudanese officials to delineate the shared borders. In a statement given on 18 February 2021 by the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government of Ethiopia calls upon African countries to advise the Sudanese government to finalize the border dispute through available mechanisms in a peaceful manner. There were also rumors and unproven reports that the leaders of Sudan and Ethiopia would separately travel to Juba to start peace talks in which the South Sudanese government claimed to mediate. It added that the Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s head of state will be meeting in the presence of the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

However, the picture that was posted on Facebook on 5 March 2021 was actually taken almost two years ago. The picture was first posted on 4 March 2019, by the official Facebook page of the Office of the Prime Minister-Ethiopia, along with 11 other pictures. The picture was taken after the Ethiopian prime minister’s visit to Eritrea was completed and immediately Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki went to Juba, South Sudan. As the office stated in the post, the purpose of the trip was to have a discussion on regional peace, economic ties, infrastructure development and other regional matters with President Salva Kiir and other senior government officials. 

Despite there being rumors and unproven reports that Sudan’s head of state Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would meet the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to negotiate the Ethio-Sudanese border dispute, HaqCheck has interrogated the post and confirmed that the picture doesn’t show a recent visit  by PM Abiy and President Isaias, to South Sudan, therefore rated the post FALSE.

Fact Checked by: Rehobot Ayalew

The following article is part of HaqCheck, Addis Zeybe’s multilingual fact-checking running in five languages (Affan Oromo, Amharic, Somali, Tigrinya and English)

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