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US Reps Endorse Democratic Reforms in Ethiopia

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The United States House of Representatives has expressed it support for the people of Ethiopia and their peaceful efforts to advance democratic reforms and to exercise the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of their country.

Ethiopia has been a key ally of the United States and an important economic and security partner, as well as a major troop contributor to international peacekeeping.

The House also acknowledged the historic reform measures undertaken by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since 2018, including efforts to promote human rights, privatize the economy, repeal restrictions on freedoms of expression, organize the first ever multi-party Presidential elections, and resolve regional conflicts.

In addition, the House equally applauded efforts by reformed national institutions such as the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission to foster respect for human rights and the rule of law.

This was contained in a Resolution submitted to the House Committee on Resolution by Congress member and Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Ms Karen Bass.

The resolution is aimed encouraging respect for human rights and encouraging continued democratic progress in Ethiopia. Ms Bass was joined by Congressman Chris Smith, who serves as Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa.

Ms Bass said the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed spearheaded significant and commendable reform measures following his selection in April 2018, including releasing thousands of political prisoners, inviting exiled political opposition back to Ethiopia, negotiating a peace agreement with Eritrea, lifting bans on over 200 websites and improving media freedom.

“However, I have become concerned about the recent unrest in the country as well as this administration’s involvement in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations and want to urge those involved to maintain a neutral position that seeks an equitable and fair solution for all parties involved.

“I also am concerned that cuts in foreign assistance to Ethiopia will have a negative impact on the Ethiopian community. This resolution reiterates that the United States House of Representatives stands by the people of Ethiopia and supports their peaceful efforts to advance democratic reforms”, she said.

The resolution called on the United States Government to play a more active and vocal role in encouraging and supporting an inclusive, intra-Ethiopian dialogue on democratic reforms, elections, ethnic violence, and accountability for serious human rights abuses.

It also harped on the need to  immediately allow all obligated and planned bilateral foreign assistance to Ethiopia to continue, including critical funding for global health security, civil society and election preparedness, economic growth, food security, and counterterrorism.

“Consider application of existing United States sanctions authority, including as provided for in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and supports the African Union-led GERD negotiations among Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan; and support an equitable outcome fair to all parties”, it added.

The resolution also called for increased United States private sector investment in Ethiopia, including in key sectors such as telecommunications, energy, and agriculture, and encourages continued efforts to spur economic growth and privatize the economy.

It however, condemned the targeted violence and destruction of property directed against ethnic and religious minorities, the excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces against peaceful protesters, the arrest and detention of journalists and peaceful protesters who exercised their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

The resolution chided hate speech and disinformation that fuel ethnic and political violence, propagated by individuals and organized groups based in Ethiopia and in the diaspora.

It further urged protesters in Ethiopia to refrain from violence and to refrain from incitement or acceptance of violence in demonstrations, adding that all political, religious, and community leaders should call for calm and encourage their supporters to reject violence.

The resolution also urged all armed factions to cease their conflict with the Government of Ethiopia and engage in peaceful negotiations directly or through intermediaries.

It also called on the government to conduct full, credible, and transparent investigations into the killings that took place in Oromia, Addis Ababa, and the Southern nations, nationalities, and people’s region amid the recent protests and unrest, including an investigation into the assassination of Haacaaluu Hundeessaa.

“Take immediate steps to prevent the use of excessive force by security forces and ensure accountability for security forces found responsible, demonstrate respect for due process and ensure fair, transparent, and expeditious trials of journalists, activists, and opposition politicians arrested during the recent unrest.

 “Respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and guarantee the freedom of the press and mass media, in keeping with Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of Ethiopia, resume dialogue with opposition parties on outstanding issues regarding democratic transformation, including determining a timeline for national elections”, it further recommended.

 The resolution also stressed the need to consider employing transitional justice approaches, mechanisms, and measures to address grievances in order to contribute to a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous future for Ethiopia.


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