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Will Ethiopia’s strategic position in Africa be used for good or for ill?

I’m very disappointed at President Barack Obama’s remarks that Ethiopia has a “democratically elected government”. President Obama made the comment on Monday during a news conference with PM Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, whose ethnic apartheid ruling party won every seat in parliament in May 24 elections.

Will Ethiopia’s strategic position in Africa be used for good or for ill?

Unfortunately, many on the ground, contrary to those in the US and international community who have been courted, deceived and charmed by the current ethnic apartheid regime, do not see the results of Ethiopia’s influence as being positive for either the people of Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa or the continent. Ethiopia is one of the least democratic countries on the continent of Africa and the world; particularly in regards to its: imprisonment of journalists, criminalization of basic civil rights, widespread violation of human rights, flawed elections, governmental control of technology, severe restrictions on civil society and in its endemic exploitation of national assets, land, resources and people.

The current ethnic- based regime of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is controlled by an elite group from the ethnic-apartheid Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), in power for over 24 years.

Prior to overthrowing the last regime in 1991, the United States Department of State had classified them as a terrorist group for their brutal acts based on their Marxist-Leninist ideology, which is still followed. Instead of becoming a beacon of justice, they have repeatedly terrorized their own people.

During the Ethiopian military’s incursion into Somalia, with the stated goal of curbing the spread of radical Islam, its rampant human rights violations and the widespread destruction of homes, livestock, wells and property has been considered as one of the factors that incited the rise of al Shabaab, now classified as a Somali terrorist group.

For Ethiopia to use its strategic position by the Obama Administration in Africa for good rather than for ill, it is imperative that it start at home by initiating meaningful democratic reforms, inclusiveness of opportunity, the restoration of justice, reconciliation and genuine accountability that goes beyond deceptive rhetoric to actual practice on the ground. Only then will the lives of its own citizens be enhanced and its continental influence finally used for the good of the people of Africa. Until then, its influence will simply reinforce similar deficiencies in other countries on the continent, making it all the more important to see changes come to Ethiopia.

Obang Metho's photo.Obang Metho's photo.
posted by: Kumilachew Gbremeskel Ambo

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