Rwanda’s King Kigeli V, the Umwami w’u Rwanda, and current head of a dynasty which goes back in an unbroken line to the year 1081 (Western calendar), is seen here (right of picture) meeting with Ethiopian Crown Council President Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie at the Strategy ’98 dinner in Washington DC on October 6, 1998.
Both Prince Ermias and His Majesty are wearing decorations awarded by the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), a worldwide NGO for senior government officials involved in national policy and strategic affairs. King Kigeli was awarded the ISSA Gold Medal Award for Outstanding Contributions to Strategic Progress for Humanitarian Achievements for 1998. This recognized the King’s work to warn the world of the impending genocides in Rwanda over the past decade.
Prince Ermias is wearing the ISSA medal he was awarded in 1997 for his work in attempting to draw international attention to the plight of Ethiopian refugees, who are often in difficult conditions in remote parts of the world. Prince Ermias has travelled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, and has met with dozens of heads-of-state, heads-of-government and senior government officials during the past three years to raise the awareness of the needs of the Ethiopian refugee communities in their midst.
Prince Ermias is also wearing the Battle of Adwa Centenary Medal, issued by the Crown Council to recognize the great victory by the forces of his kinsmen, Emperor Menelik II, over the Italians in 1896. The medal is being re-struck (see story, page seven) to recognize Ethiopian patriots and supporters of Ethiopia to recognize the 103rd anniversary of the battle this month.
Both Prince Ermias and King Kigeli spoke at the big Strategy’98 conference, the Global Strategic Forum, about the strategic situations in their respective countries. As well, both participated in a special briefing to the United States Congress in September, and then again to the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 14.
The briefing to the Senate was held in the rarely-used Senate Treaty Room, the ornate and beautifully-decorated chamber used by the Senate to greet heads-of-state and special dignitaries.
It was at the Senate briefing that Prince Ermias repeated the offer — initially made at Strategy’98 — for the Crown Council to act as a mediating, or conflict resolution, body for the Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute. At the time, Prince Ermias warned that not only would the conflict worsen if not resolved, it would also create animosities within the Ethiopian family of nations which would take generations to heal.
Neither party to the conflict was, at that time, disposed to consider a resolution to the conflict which did indeed worsen.
King Kigeli also discussed, at the conference, the seemingly intractable civil war situation in his country. Discussions are now underway to try to get the King’s return to Rwanda by modifying the colonial constitution (left to the state by the Belgians) to allow his return, where he is seen as the only national unifying figure capable of bringing about reconciliation between the three major groups in Rwanda: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa.
The ISSA Awards automatically invested both leaders as Life Members of the prestigious association, which is involved in global conflict resolution studies.