Minister of Federal and Pastoralist Development Affair, Kassa Teklebrehan has been named Ethiopia’s new ambassador to the United States, a delicate assignment in the midst of uncertain relation with the new American administration. His nomination was part of a wave of nominations in which 11 ambassadors were appointed. Kassa will replace Girma Biru, who served as Ethiopia’s envoy to the United States for the past seven years.
Kassa, who hails from Sekota area, born to a Tigrayan father and an Amhara mother, took up in the armed struggle against the military regime. After the fall of the Derg, Kassa’s career began as a politician and party loyalist in the Amhara regional state in Bahir Dar. An effective political strategist, Kassa came to Addis Ababa and served as president of the House of Federation and chairperson of the Addis Ababa University Governing Board for a number of years. Kassa replaced Bereket Simon in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front executive committee two years ago.
Even though with a reputation for his oratory skills, the position in Washington, considered perhaps the best diplomatic posting, came as surprise for many, including for some career diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. kassa is not known for his wonderful command of English and skill in foreign affairs, leading to questions if he is qualified to manage the important foreign relations task.
The EPRDF that came to power in 1991 has always been supported by the US government and is viewed as a valuable security ally and a bulwark against terrorism. However, with the current Trump administration, nothing could be taken for granted.
Since 1992, with the emergence of the EPRDF-led government, the Ethiopian embassy has had four ambassadors: Berhane Gebre-Christos, Kassahun Ayele, Samuel Assefa and Girma Birru. The Ethiopian embassy in Washington incudes an Economic, Financial and Trade Affairs Office. The office is also accredited to the World Bank, and to the International Monetary Fund.