Sunday, April 19, 2015

US official praises Ethiopian ‘democracy,’ rest of world begs to differ

(Apr 18, 2015, (Al Jazeera America (blog)))--During a press briefing in Addis Ababa on April 16, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman praised Ethiopia as a democracy, suggesting it had made great strides toward an open and inclusive electoral process.

With Ethiopia preparing to hold parliamentary elections on May 24, the timing of Sherman’s remarks was unfortunate. “Ethiopia is a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair and credible and open and inclusive in ways that Ethiopia has moved forward in strengthening its democracy,” Sherman said. “Every time there is an election it gets better and better.”

In reality, however, Ethiopia has been backsliding toward authoritarian one-party rule. The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has been in power for the last 23 years, has won each of the last five elections, and has recently used a slew of harsh new laws to stifle dissent and silence any opposition to the incumbent party.

The country’s one-time vocal opposition is severely diminished, making Ethiopia a de facto one-party state. In a statement earlier this year, 33 opposition parties announced plans to boycott the upcoming polls [PDF] citing intimidation and harassment. Read more from Al Jazeera America »

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