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Merkel signals support for Ethiopia’s protesters in visit

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled support for protesters demanding wider freedoms in Ethiopia during a visit to the country on Tuesday, saying “a vibrant civil society is part and parcel of a developing country.”
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After meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Merkel said Germany has offered to train Ethiopia’s police to deal with the sometimes deadly demonstrations that have caused one of Africa’s best-performing economies to declare its first state of emergency in 25 years.

“We are already working in Oromia to de-escalate the situation there by offering mediation between groups,” she said, referring to the region where protests have simmered for nearly a year.

“I would always argue for allowing people of a different political opinion … to engage with them and allow them to express their views because, after all, a democratic experience shows that out of these discussions good solutions usually come,” Merkel said.

The Ethiopian prime minister responded by suggesting his government may increase dialogue. “We have shortcomings in our fledgling democracy, so we want to go further in opening up the political space and engagement with different groups of the society,” he said, noting that the East African country’s huge youth population has created “dissatisfaction and desperation.”

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But the prime minister also sounded a note of defiance. “Ethiopia is committed to have a multi-party democracy as per our constitution. And Ethiopia is committed to have human rights observed. … But Ethiopia is also against any violent extremist armed struggling groups,” he said.

Ethiopia declared a state of emergency Sunday, faced with widespread anti-government protests. More than 50 people died last week in a stampede after police tried to disperse protesters. The incident set off a week of demonstrations in which both foreign and local businesses with suspected government ties were burned, and one American was killed in a rock attack.

Merkel said the German business community has criticized the business climate in Ethiopia, and she expressed hope that the government will discuss the criticism openly.

At least 500 people have been killed in anti-government protests over the past year, according to Human Rights Watch. The protesters demand more freedoms from a government accused of being increasingly authoritarian.

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The United States and others have called on the government to use restraint against protesters, and the U.N. human rights office has asked for access to allow independent observers into the troubled Oromia region.

On Monday, Ethiopia’s president announced during a Parliament session that the country’s election law would be amended to accommodate more political parties and opposing views.

But the country’s internet service continues to be largely blacked out after last week’s unrest.

Merkel’s African tour, with stops earlier this week in Mali and Niger, is also meant to highlight the global migration crisis and security issues. Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest hosts of refugees, with an estimated 780,000 from nearby Somalia, South Sudan and elsewhere.

Ethiopia’s prime minister appealed for German support.

Merkel also inaugurated the new African Union Peace and Security Council building in the capital, Addis Ababa, constructed with German funding of 27 million euros. It is expected to be the base for coordination of peacekeeping missions.

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2 Comments

  1. She is one of my most favorite and admired leaders ever lived and she excels every male leader preceding her ever. That is why I am a staunch believer that women only should monopolize the leadership role in politics for the next 100 years. Men have created nothing but wars and mismanaged states all over the world and since the dawn of grouped way of living. They have messed it up so bad that they may not think straight ever again. Men have to be told back in line and banned from all nations’ leadership positions for the next 100 years and let women show them how good governance is created and works. Men have grown to be so complacent that they don’t even realize they are starting mayhem. They have become so indolent that you will find them where you left them 100 years ago. They have grown so stubborn that every mule is very jealous of them. There is no such thing as a 2nd thought in their decision making. When people hear me saying these ‘terrible’ things about the ‘qualities'(I would rather say disqualifications) of men, they claim that my being a father of a wonderful daughter had led me into believing it. Yes that too. So what is your problem? But the history is out there. Let’s bring up the current and past history of the old country. Who invaded our country so many times? Men! Who is leading the country into a possible abyss now? Men! Who has been fragmenting the opposition into a condition beyond repair? Who murdered and still murdering people over there? Men! Men!!! Name one female in a leadership role of all these heinous crimes? Name one! None! None! That is my verdict and there is nothing you can do about it. Full Stop!!!

  2. She is one of my most favorite and admired leaders ever lived and she excels every male leader preceding her ever. That is why I am a staunch believer that women only should monopolize the leadership role in politics for the next 100 years. Men have created nothing but wars and mismanaged states all over the world and since the dawn of grouped way of living. They have messed it up so bad that they may not think straight ever again. Men have to be told back in line and banned from all nations’ leadership positions for the next 100 years and let women show them how good governance is created and works. Men have grown to be so complacent that they don’t even realize they are starting mayhem. They have become so indolent that you will find them where you left them 100 years ago. They have grown so stubborn that every mule is very jealous of them. There is no such thing as a 2nd thought in their decision making. When people hear me saying these ‘terrible’ things about the ‘qualities'(I would rather say disqualifications) of men, they claim that my being a father of a wonderful daughter had led me into believing it. Yes that too. So what is your problem? But the history is out there. Let’s bring up the current and past history of the old country. Who invaded our country so many times? Men! Who is leading the country into a possible abyss now? Men! Who has been fragmenting the opposition into a condition beyond repair? Who murdered and still murdering people over there? Men! Men!!! Name one female in a leadership role of all these heinous crimes? Name one! None! None! That is my verdict and there is nothing you can do about it. Full Stop!!!

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