Global community responds to Ethiopia’s political uncertainties

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ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) — The global community has called on the Ethiopian government and public to hold constructive dialogues among all stakeholders for a peaceful and durable resolution to the current crisis.

The African Union Commission (AUC) is the latest to respond to Ethiopia’s current political situation as the East African country imposed martial law, due effective as of Friday for six months, following a crippling strike last week in Ethiopia’s largest Oromia regional state and increasing reports of ethnic clashes across the country.

“I stress the need for all concerned stakeholders to display a spirit of responsibility and refrain from any acts likely to undermine peace and stability,” AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said on Wednesday.

He also called upon the Ethiopian authorities and people “to overcome the challenges at hand and to consolidate the remarkable progress made in the socio-economic development of the country.”

The European Union (EU) mission to Ethiopia also called for the Ethiopian government to conduct dialogue to resolve the political crisis.

The EU, in a statement that did not explicitly opposed the martial law, urged the Ethiopian government to limit its scope and respect human rights.

“Only a constructive dialogue among all stakeholders — authorities, opposition, media, civil society — will allow for a peaceful and durable resolution of the crisis,” said the EU in a statement.

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The United States, as one of Ethiopia’s allies in various areas, also called on the Ethiopian authorities to reconsider the recent decision to institute martial law.

In a statement posted on its website, the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa said the decision to impose martial law in Ethiopia on Friday reverses positive steps taken to create a more inclusive political space, including the release of thousands of prisoners.

“We strongly disagree with the Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a state of emergency that includes restrictions on fundamental rights such as assembly and expression,” the statement read.

The global community’s call for Ethiopian authorities and the public for peaceful resolution of the challenges came as the Ethiopian National Security Council (ENSC) on Saturday urged citizens to respect the state of emergency.

Siraj Fegessa, Ethiopia’s Defense Minister, told local media outlets on Saturday that the state of emergency will bring together the country’s security forces together in an effort to ensure “the country’s law and order is effectively maintained.”

Egypt also expressed its concern that the ongoing political unrest in the East African country is likely to affect the pace of negotiations on the technical studies related to Ethiopia’s Great Renaissance Dam on their shared Nile River.

Egypt expressed its concern following the postponement of a tripartite meeting among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia with the participation of the three countries’ ministers of foreign affairs and water resources and intelligence chiefs, which was scheduled to be held from Feb. 24 to 25 in Sudan’s capital Khartoum.

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The host country Sudan postponed the tripartite meeting upon Ethiopia’s request due to current political challenges.

Sudanese government also declared its support for Ethiopia in its efforts towards preserving the unity of the Ethiopian people and security of the country.

Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which noted the strong, historic, and joint interest between Ethiopia and Sudan, reiterated its firm stand in backing Ethiopia’s effort aimed at sustaining the country’s ambitions.

The UK, which has strong diplomatic relationship with Ethiopian that dated back to 1896, also on Tuesday expressed its disappointment with the decision of Ethiopian government to impose martial law to combat sporadic protests and rising ethnic conflicts.

Harriett Baldwin, UK Minister for Africa, said the decision to impose martial law discourages foreign investors and risks reversal of Ethiopia’s recent moves towards reform.

“The institution of martial law sends a discouraging signal to the international community and foreign investors. We strongly hope that the announcement does not signal a reversal in Ethiopia’s recent moves towards reform, and that it will be in place for as short a time as possible,” said the statement from the minister.

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The UK nevertheless hailed Ethiopia’s efforts at political reform and orderly process of political change.

Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, Professor of Public Policy at Addis Ababa University, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the declaration of a state of emergency for a second time in short period of time is due to the “youth protest as one of the most momentous movement since the Afro-Arab Spring that has the potential to escalate to a wider conflict.”

“The mass campaign has celebrated the release of opposition figures, protest bloggers and journalists from incarceration,” Costantinos said, adding: “It is unprecedented in this nation’s recent history, where protests have managed to persuade a formidable regime to capitulate to its demands.”

Ethiopia has been facing incessant protests since 2016, especially in its three most populous Oromia, Amhara and Southern regional states.

Africa’s second most populous nation had witnessed a 10-month long state of emergency period since October 2016, following the Ethiopian parliament’s decision on March 30 to extend the initial 6 months long period by additional four months.

The political crisis led to the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn last week. The last time Ethiopia witnessed the resignation of a prime minister was 44 years ago.

Source: Xinhua

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