US opposes Ethiopia’s state of emergency

Monday February 19 2018

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn submitted his resignation on February 15, 2018. AFP PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI 

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The US government has opposed the Ethiopian government’s declaration of state of emergency following the anti-government demonstrations.

“We strongly disagree with the Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a state of emergency that includes restrictions on fundamental rights such as assembly and expression,” the US embassy in Addis Ababa said.

“…The declaration of a state of emergency undermines recent positive steps toward creating a more inclusive political space, including the release of thousands of prisoners. Restrictions on the ability of the Ethiopian people to express themselves peacefully sends a message that they are not being heard,” the embassy said in a statement.

The statement is one of the few the US has issued publicly on Ethiopia in its close to three decades relations with the African state.

Ethiopia and the US have enjoyed good relations since the overthrow of the Derg Regime in 1991 by the current administration of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The US has been a major partner of the Ethiopian government in the fight against terrorism in the eastern Africa region and among the top humanitarian development assistance providers to the Addis Ababa government.

Meaningful dialogue

“…We recognise and share concerns expressed by the government about incidents of violence and loss of life, but firmly believe that the answer is greater freedom, not less…We strongly urge the government to rethink this approach and identify other means to protect lives and property while preserving, and indeed expanding, the space for meaningful dialogue and political participation that can pave the way to a lasting democracy,” it said.

According to Ethiopian state broadcaster EBC, the council of ministers declared a six-month state of emergency on Friday following requests by people from different parts of the country, who feared for their lives and investments.

Ethiopia has been in a state of anxiety following the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn last week.