Ethiopian opposition urges Obama to keep up pressure

Merera2010Addis Ababa (AFP) – US President Barack Obama’s visit to Ethiopia, which saw him speak out against democratic restrictions, was positive but Washington must maintain pressure on the government, an Ethiopian opposition figure said Wednesday.

Merera Gudina, the vice-president of the opposition Medrek party

“I was not in favour of his coming, but (the visit) exposed Ethiopia and its government,” said Merera Gudina, the vice-president of the opposition Medrek party, hailing the media and NGO interest generated by Obama’s remarks.

“I think the cause of democracy benefited from this,” Gudina said.

“But we have to wait for the follow-up. If the US really means business, they have a lot of leverage with the Ethiopian government. But the US needs Ethiopia on the war on terror. It’s a major ally in the Horn of Africa,” he said, adding that he feared Obama’s comments were “only for public relations.”

Obama was in Ethiopia on Monday and Tuesday, making the first-ever visit to the country by a US president.

On Tuesday he became the first US leader to address the Addis Ababa-headquartered African Union.

Obama delivered a blunt appraisal of Ethiopia’s democracy deficit but said it would not scuttle the two countries’ close security and political relationship.

“There is still more work to do, and I think the prime minister is the first to admit there is still more to do,” Obama said during a joint news conference on Monday with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, whose party won 100 percent of seats in parliament two months ago.

Rights groups had warned that Obama’s visit could add credibility to a government they accuse of suppressing democratic rights — including the jailing of journalists and critics — with anti-terrorism legislation said to be used to stifle peaceful dissent.

But Hailemariam pushed back against criticism his government has quashed opposition voices and suppressed press freedom.

“Our commitment to democracy is real and not skin deep,” he said, adding that Ethiopia is a “fledgling democracy, we are coming out of centuries of undemocratic practices”.

7 Responses to Ethiopian opposition urges Obama to keep up pressure

  1. Mario July 31, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    The only pressure woyanes/TPLF will give in is the one that comes from the Ethiopian people. Let us not undermine the power of our people.

    Expecting pressure against woyanes/TPLF regime coming from other governments and/or individuals has not worked in the last 25 years and I don’t think it will work in the future either.

    President Obama went to Ethiopia and legitimized woyanes/TPLF rule by declaring they are in power because they are elected democratically. This was a major blow to the Ethiopian people and all freedom loving peoples of the world.

    President Obama also reminded Ethiopians that we can fight woyanes/TPLF for our freedom and rights not in our way, but only in the regime’s and/or the president way or preferences. This is also another blow to the Ethiopian people from a president we never expected to utter such words. What does that mean? Well, they don’t want us to practice our right of mass protest, civil disobedience or even wage an armed struggle against the tyrannical regime, but stay ruled by woyanes/TPLF as desired.

    Having said the above, is it not reckless and absurd for the opposition to ask President Obama to put pressure on woyanes/TPLF? Thanks to the President, the regime is now emboldened more than any time and I don’t think it will give in to any external pressure at this time of our history.

  2. Barii August 1, 2015 at 2:05 am #

    President Obama’s visitation of Ethiopia and his actions in Ethiopia have unequivocally proven that his administration won’t put any tangible pressure on TPLF/EPRDF regime. Case closed!

    For centuries Ethiopia’s politics has been dependent on the external force (country or countries). Knowingly or unknowingly we have developed dependent mentality, which is true both for the regime on power and all opposition groups and political activists.

    The West and other emerging powers like China chase their national interests. In their pursuit of national interests, they search for client groups that address or collaborate to fulfill their interests. Most certainly, they don’t choose weak groups to be partners in their pursuit of national interests. Opposition groups that cannot even defend the national interests of their own people cannot be partners with the West to defend their interests. Even worse, their interests have taken very urgent form that needs urgent partners in the region.

    First things first. We should focus on organizing our people to be the force that can defend our national interests. Then and only then we will get respect to negotiate terms for our nation. Although they have limited attention, Obbo Amin Jundi likes are clearly seeing this to be true. The West don’t need to worry about the long term either. Any entity that will become relatively strong will crawl to get support from the West and other emerging powers like China.

    TPLF has a number of lucks that embolden its support from the West as well as the East. Among others, the rise of religious extremists that has taken the form of universal enemy of the South, North, East and West, and hence benefits the bully of the block to contain the extremists. Extremists have no friends in the world except few elements in the Arab world that finance them. They are the enemy of every power groups: West, China, India, etc. Everyone powerful entity wants to see them decimated and destroyed for good. The luck of TPLF thugs is mainly due to the historical circumstances that ensue in the region much more than its strength.

  3. hawwinee barii August 1, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    The good doctor has still not learned any lesson and still does not want to tell Oromo people the right way to move but for his own on personal interest of getting fund from USAID and National Endowment for Democracy that fund opposition political forces to give legitimacy to the regime they support, he still continues to confuse our people and work for the enemy. These two organization that are the CIA front organization, are aimed at sabotaging any people’s power to emerge any where than the regime that serves their selfish group or individual American interest. The good doctor, should have qualm and stop deceiving the Oromo people by resigning. He is a proffesser of political science but does not know the kind of politics that works for him. He is only working to sabotage the OLF on the behalf of the USA and Wayyanee to get their funding. What a terrible sellout this doctor is?

  4. Sirreessaa August 1, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    I thik Dr Mararas comments are right. The visit of president Obama kan be positive if his
    administration means business and presses the government for more concessions towards strengthening democracy.

    But the problem is not only that of the US. Our opposition leaders of all types are not doing any
    good job to show the US, other foregn powers and most of all their own people that they have a viable alternative politics that can engage the majority and can bring about, more peace, prosperitya and stability to the whole region. So far we have no such politics on sight. The only thing they are good at is to complain and condemn the government and each other. This will lead us no where.

    They have to come up with a viable framework that can take over peacefully from Wayane. Wayane is a tiny minorithy regime. It can fall anytime. Do we have any framework or plan or idea as to how we are going to controll the situation or we jump directly into cicil war? As things stand today this is the only alternative available. This is exactly what we see in S.Sudan, Somalia, Yemen,Syria, etc. I prefer that the Wayane stay in power so long as we cannot come up with alternative.

    In the mean time President Obama and the US and other foreign powers have no any alternative but continue to support the only viable alternative that exists on the ground today. For them the other alternative is another failed state in the region with concequent distruction, caos and terroist bases. No one in his/her own mind would jump into that.

    • Tufaa August 1, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

      Given his situation, Dr. Merera stated his wishes but his wishes won’t become true. The West is not known in empowering the weak. The West usually chooses sides and supports the chosen side as long as it is a partner addresses West’s national interest. As others stated, nobody likes the weak.

      Moreover, we need to show we’ve a viable agenda to deal with religious extremists in the region. Unlike the cold war era, we cannot seek an alternative support. The terrorists are the enemy of all powerful counties, including Russia, China, etc.. The thinking is crystal clear. Fighting the extremists is part of the geopolitical, economic, political, etc. interests of all powerful countries. Let us empower ourselves via empowering our political entities. Many have made the same call but it is worth repeating it.

  5. Mario August 2, 2015 at 2:21 am #

    @Sirreessaa

    You said, “I prefer that the Wayane stay in power so long as we cannot come up with alternative”.

    Sirreessaa, with all due respect I disagree with you. I suppose you are not the only one to give such an alternative to the Ethiopian people. President Obama did and endorsed the tyrannical regime by calling it,”democratically elected”. I mean, both of you mean the thing, but in other words.

    For you and your likes, woyanes/TPLF are probably like, “The devil you know is better than the God you don’t know” as the saying goes. For me and many others, Woyanes/TPLF are prime enemies of Ethiopians and it is our duty and responsibility to remove them by all means before they annihilate all of us turn by turn.

    May God/Allah give us the wisdom and courage to say/do the right thing!!!

  6. Barii August 2, 2015 at 5:28 am #

    See how TPLF supporters milk religious extremists problem to their advantage.

    “The secret to Ethiopia’s counterterrorism success”
    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/07/secret-ethiopia-counterterrorism-success-150728112317438.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+aljazeera%2FanCM+%28AL+JAZEERA+ENGLISH+%28AJE%29%29

    “They’ve learned that ‘terrorism’ is a very powerful word, both in domestic and foreign policy,” Galperin says. “If you can name your enemies ‘terrorists,’ and say that you are fighting terrorism by monitoring these Ethiopian dissidents, it’s possible for the government to come out of this looking really good as strong ‘war on terror’ allies in Africa.”

    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-war-on-terror-has-turned-ethiopia-into-a-surveillance-state

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