Monday, July 22, 2024

Washington Update: US Should Hold Abiy Accountable for Delivering on His Promises

The US Government response

US government officials and the public need to understand that Prime Minister Abiy’s optimistic comments on the situation in Ethiopia do not reflect the reality. The country’s most serious problems have not been solved. The US should encourage him to move forward resolutely and hold him accountable for delivering on his promises.

The US Congress should enact legislation that will put the US on the right side of history by promoting a transition to democracy in Ethiopia, halting ethnic cleansing, and preventing Ethiopia from becoming a breeding ground for terrorist groups such as Al Shebab and Al Queda. The New York Times, Washington Post, Ethiopia independent TV, and Diaspora media outlets have reported on ethnic cleansing in Ethiopia, especially attacks on the Amharas by terrorist extremist Shenne/OLF groups, including reports of killings, beatings, harassing and destroying houses based solely on ethnicity. Among the many horrific events, the recent shootings of Orthodox Christians at Waybela Merriam Church are incredibly shocking.

Dialogue and Reconciliation

The recent initiative by the Ethiopian government for “Dialogue and Reconciliation” seems to be a perversion of the idea of creating a Truth and Reconciliation commission modeled on the South African experience.

The Ethiopian initiative lacks the vital aspects of uncovering the truth and holding individuals accountable. At the outset, before there has been any “dialogue” and in the absence of any reconciliation, criminals are being released. The results could be dire.

The process should start with a truth and reconciliation project animated by the spirit that propelled change in South Africa. The goals are clear: peace, justice, respect for human rights, democracy, and prosperity. Achieving these primary goals will require a process of truth-telling, particularly about human rights abuses, achieved through testimony from both victims and perpetrators, coupled with a pledge of reconciliation. Prominent Ethiopians signed a declaration calling for this. The selection process for membership on such a commission must ensure that it is staffed by neutral individuals dedicated to its goals.

Investment in Ethiopian recovery

There has been a discussion among Ethiopian-Americans about helping their homeland by investing and creating new opportunities, especially for young Ethiopians. Economic development and employment of the young are essential for the nation’s prosperity and stability.

Despite actions by the Ethiopian government that are driving away investment, there is some positive news. On January 26, World Vision and USAID announced a $309 million joint project in Ethiopia’s Amhara, Oromia regions. The goal of the five-year program is to support food security efforts in the two areas.

This is a small step toward the massive investment needed to offset the devastation of the ongoing conflict. Reuters News recently reported that a “new food security assessment, released today by the United Nations World Food Programme, shows that almost 40 percent of Tigrayans are suffering an extreme lack of food, after 15 months of conflict.” The assessment said that across Tigray and the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara, also affected by the war, an estimated 9 million people need food aid.

The appointment of Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson, as Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. at Embassy Addis Ababa

According to the US State Department press release, Ambassador Jacobson will lead US engagement in Ethiopia. The Secretary of State selected Ambassador Jacobson to continue the work undertaken by Ambassador Pasi to press for an immediate cessation of hostilities, an end to ongoing human rights abuses and violations, unhindered humanitarian access, and a negotiated resolution to the conflict in Ethiopia.

Author profile
Mesfin Mekonen

Mesfin Mekonen is the author of Washington Update, a bulletin about Ethiopia’s struggle for freedom and prosperity, and founder of MM Management.

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