May 14, 2006
Bumpy Road to Democracy in Ethiopia
There is an interesting press release from the European Chapter of the Network of Ethiopian Scholars, relating to some of things I mentioned yesterday. I’ve excerpted part of their statement below. It’s a strong critique of the Ethiopian government. The Scholars also will address the European Parliament Hearing on Human Rights.
“The current regime does not care about anything except to stay in power. As a minority regime, it fears one person one vote as the apartheid regime in South Africa used to do. The only way democracy can come peacefully is for the international community to take democracy seriously in Ethiopia and support the opposition and the Ethiopian people.”
I’m surprised no one from Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s office has addressed why the government quashes its opposition or the lack of political freedoms in the country required for elections.
The right to participate in choosing a government does not exist for many Ethiopians. Silencing political dissent and pervasive human rights violations have denied Ethiopian citizens the right to form and express their political ideas.
We can expect no pressure on Zenawi from the current U.S. administration. Bush is a strong supporter of the current Ethiopian government and lacks the vision or incentive to make ‘free and fair elections’ part of any aid package. This isn’t the first time U.S. policymakers failed to recognize the dangers in supporting a bad government. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s unwillingness to talk to the Ethiopian opposition or pressure Zenawi to allow a particpatory democracy in his country is shameful and hypocritical.
It will only serve to cut out the moderates in the opposition groups moderates and increase the chance of an intra-state conflict between the government’s security forces and rebel movements.