An unaccustomed vigorous press release from the US Embassy in Addis Abeba today stated that it “strongly disagrees” with the Ethiopian government’s declaration of State of Emergency (SoE).
The US Embassy said the SoE “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.”
The Statement from the US Embassy also urged the Ethiopian government in the strongest terms “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.”
On social media, Ethiopians, rights defenders and people who follow the situation closely have appreciated the US Embassy in Ethiopia for “finally” speaking “the truth.”
Finally a really American statement.
— Habesha (@Habeshatweet) February 17, 2018
“We strongly disagree”. Good to see this strong message from @USEmbassyAddis. Hopefully others embassies follow. Important for @EPRDFEthiopia to know its friends believe a state of emerg is an unwise move. https://t.co/cD5LIoTq4O
— Felix Horne (@FelixHorne1) February 17, 2018
The statement has also been widely shared and reported by Ethiopian media outlets as well as social media users.
The US has often been criticized for being too soft worded when speaking to the Ethiopian government mostly sending press releases that contain the words “we are concerned.”
This is one of the most vigorously worded and direct statements in the last 27 years by the US Embassy in Addis Abeba. It is also special in that it urges the government to look for alternatives rather than declare a draconian SoE.
The US is the major donor to Ethiopia as well as the powerful allies of the current government. The EPRDF government got the leverage to use the war on terror in the Horn of Africa and its relationship with the US as a shield of unchallenged rule in Ethiopia. With the new US administration and a strong Ambassador in Addis Abeba, this seems to be changing.