US urges Ethiopian unity after criticising election

Tuesday July 13 2021
Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at the House of Peoples Representatives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 30, 2020. PHOTO | AFP


The United States has urged Ethiopians to reject violence and divisions as it voiced concern over the conduct of elections held amid brutal fighting in the Tigray region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed secured another five-year term in results announced Saturday but the State Department said it stood by its statement issued before the vote that the process "was not free or fair for all Ethiopians" due to violence and opposition parties' boycott.

"All of this underscores the need to launch an inclusive effort to build a national consensus on the governance of Ethiopia," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"In this period following the election, it's critical that Ethiopians come together to confront growing divisions. We urge politicians and community leaders to reject violence and to refrain from inciting others to violence," he said.

Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for peacemaking efforts, especially with Eritrea, earlier had close relations with the United States. But Washington has been outraged since he launched an offensive in November in Tigray, where hundreds of thousands of people are now facing famine.

Thousands of others have been killed in the conflict.


The State Department, in an annual report on atrocity prevention submitted to Congress on Monday, reiterated Secretary of State Antony Blinken's March finding that "acts of ethnic cleansing" have taken place in Tigray.

Price said the United States was "gravely concerned" by a new escalation in fighting.

"We strongly condemn any retaliatory attacks that have been or may be directed against civilians in the Tigray region, whether by organized military or security forces or by rogue elements," Price said.

"The  United States further calls on all armed actors to comply with their international humanitarian legal obligations, including regarding the protection of civilians."

Abiy launched the offensive after purported attacks by the local ruling party, and the Ethiopian army made quick gains with the support of troops from neighbouring Eritrea as well as the Amhara region.

But in a striking reversal of fortunes, the Tigray Defense Forces retook the regional capital Mekele in late June.