Obama criticized for calling Ethiopia’s government ‘democratically elected’

While US president calls for end of crackdown on political and press freedom, his comments on Hailemariam administration are widely condemned.

Dictator annoited  'Democratically elected' by President Obama

President Obama called Ethiopian brutal dictatorial regime ‘Democratically Elected’

(The Guardian) — Barack Obama has been criticized by opposition groups and journalists in Ethiopia after referring to the country’s government as “democratically elected”, with one human rights watchdog describing the statement as “shocking”.

The US president was speaking at a joint press conference with Hailemariam Desalegn, the Ethiopian prime minister, after the two leaders held talks in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Although Obama said he had raised issues of good governance – “I don’t bite my tongue too much when it comes to these issues” – he also insisted: “We are opposed to any group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.”

Answering questions from journalists later, Obama repeated the phrase: “We are very mindful of Ethiopia’s history – the hardships that this country has gone through. It has been relatively recently in which the constitution that was formed and the elections put forward a democratically elected government.”

Hailemariam’s party and its allies won 100% of seats in parliament two months ago. The opposition alleged the government had used authoritarian tactics to secure victory, including intimidation, arrests and violently breaking up rallies. At the time, the US said it remained “deeply concerned” by restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties and independent voices and views.

But Ethiopia remains a key security ally for the US in the fight against the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab. It has also become an economic battleground with China, which has delivered huge infrastructure projects in Africa’s second most populous nation.

Critics accused Obama of granting legitimacy to the regime. Reeyot Alemu, a columnist released earlier this month after four years in jail on terrorism charges, said: “It’s not ‘democratically elected’ because there was only government media and people did not get enough information.

“They also arrested many opposition leaders and journalists. They won the election by using human rights violations. How can it be democratically elected? It is completely false. I wish Barack Obama had sent a strong message.”

Bekele Nega, general secretary of the Oromo Federalist Congress, representing Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, said: “I don’t know if democracy means robbing people’s vote and robbing their election result? They have killed people and they have taken the ballot box with them in organised fraud.”

Nega claimed his party found some of its votes thrown down a toilet, while at one polling station its victory by 800 votes to 40 was reversed to a 40-800 defeat. “I wonder if people could tolerate this in America or Britain or wherever? Is this the meaning of democracy in America? We are very sorry that Mr Obama’s comment on our election is really supporting dictators. We know the US is always looking after its own interests and will take over on the military side, sending our people to Somalia.”

Obama had let down opposition groups in Ethiopia, Nega added. “We gave support for an African-American to be elected as president of the United States. We hoped Africa and Ethiopia would benefit from Obama, but we found it to be just a mockery of democracy. We expected a lot and we lost everything.”

Obama’s statement appeared to be the closest thing to a “gaffe” he has made so far on his east African tour. He earned widespread praise in Kenya for championing both gay rights and women’s rights, challenging Africans to reconsider traditional practices including female genital mutilation. But Ethiopia’s more restrictive approach to civil liberties was always going to pose a tougher diplomatic balancing act.

Felix Horne, Ethiopia and Eritrea researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “For president Obama to suggest there is anything democratic about Ethiopia is a shocking statement. I wonder what the jailed journalists, bloggers and political prisoners think of his comments? Or the thousands of Ethiopians who have fled their country because they did not support the government? Or the 18 Muslim activists who were recently convicted under the anti-terrorism law? A truly disappointing statement from the US president.”

Rachel Nicholson, Horn of Africa campaigner at Amnesty International, added: “While President Obama described the Ethiopian government as democratically elected, the leadup to the elections saw a serious onslaught on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, undermining citizens’ right to participate in public affairs freely and without fear. Opposition political parties have continued to face harassment since the elections, including reports of the deaths of at least three opposition political figures in suspicious circumstances.”

Many journalists, bloggers and political activists remain behind bars in Ethiopia. Maya Foa, of the UK-based pressure group Reprieve, said: “It’s encouraging to hear President Obama telling Ethiopia to ‘open up space’ for opposition voices. But his praise for Ethiopia’s elections as ‘democratic’ was woefully misplaced, at a time when the government is systematically detaining and torturing leading activists such as Andy Tsege – a father of three who faces a death sentence for the mere ‘crime’ of holding democratic beliefs.”

Obama is the first sitting US president to visit Ethiopia. He praised the country’s progress in development that has lifted millions of people out of poverty, as well as its regional role in fighting al-Shabaab militants and helping peace efforts in wartorn South Sudan, the subject of talks with regional leaders later on Monday.

Speaking at the national palace originally built for emperor Haile Selassie, Hailemariam rejected criticism that his government had crushed opposition and 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”.

The country needed “ethical journalism”, he added. “For us it’s very important to be criticised, because we also get feedback to correct our mistakes. Media is one of the institutions that have to be nurtured for democracy.”

Obama’s visit to Ethiopia is rigidly organised and, although pictures of his face and US flags adorn much of Addis Ababa, there is little opportunity for interaction with the public. On Tuesday, he will also become the first US president to address the African Union, the 54-member continental bloc, at its Chinese-built headquarters.

22 Responses to Obama criticized for calling Ethiopia’s government ‘democratically elected’

  1. OnAction July 28, 2015 at 3:31 am #

    Many fool, first know who is considered human and the mission of human rights in reality.
    Also know that human right advocators are paid by …

    Take care for your standing and right than relaying on external!

  2. Oromo First July 28, 2015 at 4:26 am #

    The west doesn’t have any history of liberating oppressed nations. To the contrary, the west always had (has a continuous) history of enslaving (colonizing) free nations and supporting their proxies (dictators who serve their interests).

    The west is a symbol of colonization, exploitation, oppression. That is its history. And it continuous to be so. Therefore, only the fools may expect Obama to promote a non-exiting culture from the west.

  3. Simaa July 28, 2015 at 5:32 am #

    Really it very painful and heart breaking to hear such a statement from Mr. Obama! It is equivalent to approving the death, torture, detention, displacement of millions of Oromos, Somalis, Amharas, Sidamas and other oppressed people in Ethiopia.

    It is a cheap talk. Particularly the bull H. Mariam is acting more aggressive and oppressive than the Tigres, his mentors. This Woylamo is saying that, ‘Ethiopia is a “fledgling democracy, we are coming out of centuries of undemocratic practices”. He didn’t know that his masters who came to power through gorilla warfare by killing thousands, are holding political power for more than quarter of a century undemocratically and want to talk cheap about fledging democracy’ for the past 25 years. Woyane resisted Dergue’s oppression in less than 5 years of its coming to power but Woyane want us to sit down and let them urinate on us for the coming many years in 21st century by the blessing from the West!!!

  4. Barii July 28, 2015 at 5:34 am #

    The expansion of religious extremism has worsened the already bad perspective. TPLF/EPRDF regime is taken as the powerhouse of the region to contain the expansion of religious extremism in the region. The collapse of South Sudan is another blessing for the TPLF thugs. Even China is on-board on containing religious extremism in the Horn of Africa and TPLF/EPRDF regime’s role in it. Although it may be due to the nature of the people in Ethiopia, the relative absence of religious extremism in Ethiopia and minimal adverse impacts of religious extremism in Ethiopia are taken as efficient roles of the regime in containing religious extremism, beyond the regime’s venture into Somalia as errands of the West to contain religious extremists in Somalia.

    People, it’s a complex situation that needs complex thinking to change the mindset of the West.

  5. Goftaa Tigree July 28, 2015 at 7:23 am #

    Too naive of Oromos to expect Obama to speak for Democracy, human rights… in Ethiopia. Oromo First, above, put it right. The Americans are in Ethiopia to advance their strategic interests not to watch out for Oromo rights. They believe those interests are best served via the TPLF gangsters at this point in history. And they will support them come what may.

    For Oromos the answer lies in our ability to rely on ourselves and defend our rights by all means necessary and emerge as a force to reckon with. Then you won’t need to go to an Obama; Obama will come to you.

  6. càlaà July 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    ‘Democratically elected government’.

    What a joke !

    TO the good yankee Amis and their cohorts, the former Apartheid regime of South Africa was a democratic government.

    Naturally, Imperialists/Capitalists do not like the weak and poor people. Their prefered partners are always the powerful, the strong monsters.

    Don’t forget during the 2nd WW they fought the Nazi regime, ONLY after it became hostile to the British imperial world domination and influence, and NOT because of the genocide of the jewry.

    The time Hitler decided to rule the whole Europe by invadind POLAND, that was the red line and the Britions and the French declared war on him, and NOT because he massacred the jew.

    Imperiallism accepts and respects you, only if you are relevant (strong enough).

    Being right with out might can not help you achieve justice and freedom.

  7. OnAction July 28, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    Since TPLF steal voice and not democratically elected, throwing of it by any means has no objection. America supports government which elected democratically which is apparently not the case in TPLF mounted with massive human right violation.

  8. OnAction July 28, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    Also Twoderow Adhawo said there is no problem and no need to improve those corrupted election and human right violation, but need trade and investment.

  9. OnAction July 28, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    Where is it President Mulatu? Is he prisoner?

  10. senayt July 28, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    calaa………….ati sobaa sonbaati, soba hin odeessin. You should n,t be aliar , speak the truth. Eregna

    • Tigre Tigab ayichilim July 29, 2015 at 10:23 am #

      u said Eregna??

      I was Eregna & my dad is proud farmer but we r not beggars.
      in tigry you have a licence of begging, and prostitution???
      we oromos are proud, hard working, generous, people.

  11. Bariisoo July 28, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    “We are opposed to any group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.” He confirmed the fake election and the stolen and robbed voices of the people by the Mafia group in Finfinne( Addis Abeba).His national security advisor jokkingly laughed at the weyane democracy theater.She knows everything about the theater actors so laughed to discredit the claim of 100% election victory.In Africa those who claim to bring democracy through ballot box it is your dream.it is through blood tanks and sacrifice.it is only the combination of armed opposition and massrevolt surely Weyannes will go.

  12. Qanxuu Qaxalee July 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

    I think the Cubans have described Obama in just three words: ‘The Legacy Shopper’, the first Black Student President at Harvard University; the fist Black President of the United States; the first to open a Cuban Embassy in Washington; the first sitting president to visit Kenya, Ethiopia and address the AU. The list goes on. Add the rest.

  13. Promo last Ethiopia lion first July 29, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    Hi I heard that Obama agreed with Ethiopian government to call USA as U SO. United States of Oromia. I think the Americans are fool if they allow this to happen oromos are not known to be loyal. They could sale The new USO to the Arabs or will start killing children and women as they used to do in Ethiopis before they were defeated by the United Ethiopians once for all. My message to the American government is to deport all promos in USA to their masters country Arab or vanish them where they can not resurrect again by scattering them all over the world.

  14. senayt July 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    i am not from village like tigre tigab aychilm. I was born in acity where goat herding and keeping is rare. I have never seen afox attack to goats and sheep except on pc wild movie. But, i hate village idiots trying imitate what the civilised people do . I never used piece of stones for toilet in my life except soft and i never eat before washing my hand. I never walk on bare foot. I am from oromia city.

    • Tigre Tigab ayichilim July 29, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

      which city you talking about???? you mean the church where you seat and begg while ur mom pick a lice from your head???
      you grow up on the street sleeping on dejeselam eating left over zeke.
      you never ever get a chance to shower once in your life in tekeze river cause mom is busy traveling walking bare foot hundreds of miles , every day from one church to another to collect frfari,

  15. Mario July 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    My fellow country men/women:

    After watching Susan Rice laughing involuntarily at the 100% election result and after hearing president Obama calling the regime that grabbed power by the barrel of the gun and winning elections 100% in series, “demcratically elected”, I am now convinced what they say and what they do is just an absolute joke.

    President Obama, by using just two words “democratically elected”, legitimized a regime that terrorizes its own citizens and the region to rule over Ethiopia for years to come. Wasn’t that woyanes/TPLF waiting and wanting desperately to be called and the fear and concern of all freedom loving peoples? Now, the woyanes/TPLF got what they wanted without any doubt. What did people get? Nothing!

    President Obama and his administration know well that almost everything going on in Ethiopia is wrong, but boldly tell us all is fine with us. Thank goodness, we Ethiopians are not that stupid. We know well issues that matter most to us more than any body.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, we are surely learning in the hardest way what our “enemies” and so called “friendly countries” are doing against us.

  16. senayt July 29, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    Tigre Tigab aychilm………………………………………….. I have never seen in my life aperson mate or sexual partner with adonkey where acommon practice for goat keepers.tell us how many times did you enjoy with adonkey? Worada

    • Tigre Tigab ayichilim July 29, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

      how im worada???? im proud Eregna and my dad is proud Gebere.
      YATA LEMAGN TESADBO YIHEDAL.

      look at ur nasty mouth, this is how u raised, insulting, disrespecting, people who work hard for living, like eregna, yetef gebere, we are proud of our 80% farmers that include eregna like me.
      you don’t understand the value of living, cause u grow up on the street, insulting, stealing, harassing the citizen while mom and ur siblings are begging. and you say you grow up in one of the city in orormiya, well until this day all the beggars from north come to our house so that they
      know we give them shelter and food.
      also what you say is who u are you are yedoro eregna.

  17. senayt July 29, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    chasing donkey is the most unethical practice and should be condomned. even worst than gay practice. Have you got , tigre tigab aychilm?

    • Tigre Tigab ayichilim July 29, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      what you say is what you see as a child when your dad abuse poor animals. oh
      we oromos have human dignity, love one another and respect our animals and nature.
      however you and your people have no respect, for no one including your self, calling name, destroying nature, insulting, stealing, (humberger belita, lukmas, adgi…..)
      what a mouse, that is your profession. every other word come out of your mouth is cursing……where is your manner????
      don’t be kiletam tigre.

  18. senayt July 29, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    sodo,alem,muchit,tigre tigab aychilm,almaz,anf,tigist……………same person. Do not fool people. Go to bed and sleep. Do not disturb me. Sodom

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