By T. Roble
The US has called on Ethiopia to reconsider the imposition of state of emergency terming the move an affront to fundamental human rights and a move backwards in opening up political space in the Horn of African nation.
In a strongly worded statement Saturday, the State Department said it disagreed with the Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a six months state of emergency a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned.
“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 statement read in part.
Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa said Friday the state of emergency was meant to deal with violence which is still being witnessed in some parts of the country. “There are still pockets of areas where violence is prevalent. The (ruling EPRDF coalition‘s) council were unanimous in their decision.”
Ethiopian parliament lifted the ten month state of emergency last August after the government declared it October 2016 following mass protests especially in the Oromo occupied regions leading to over 1000 deaths.
The US said Saturday the move to declare another state of emergency spoke of repression by the government despite recent release of political prisoners and journalists.
“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.”
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, the Trump administration noted.
Ethiopia is a strategic ally for the US whose continued support of Addis Ababa administration despite documented human rights abuses has raised questions.