U.S. Congressmen commends Ethiopia’s ‘great strides’

Congresswoman Karen Bass and Congressman Chris Smith with PM Abiy Ahmed in August 2018 in Addis Ababa.

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (September 13, 2018)

Two congressmen known for their support for campaigning for the respect of human rights in Ethiopia said they commend the progress and great strides Ethiopia has made in the last few months with the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

At a hearing titled ““Reviewing Current Developments in Ethiopia,” Representative Chris Smith, a senior member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the House and Chair of the Africa Subcommittee, said past hearings at the the U.S. Congress were of condemnation of the Ethiopian government for a range of rights abuses. Smith said yesterday’s hearing, however, was “one not of condemnation, but of commendation for the great strides Ethiopia has made since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed authority in April of this year.’

Smith, said H. Res. 128, a resolution “Supporting Respect for Human Rights and Encouraging Inclusive Governance in Ethiopia,” which was introduced by him and passed by the House last April, had “sent a clear message of Congressional resolve on the need for civil and political reform in Ethiopia.”

“But success of this measure was due in largest part to the efforts of the Ethiopian diaspora community in the United States, which came together to demand that egregious human rights abuses immediately cease, and that fundamental human rights must be promoted and protected for all in Ethiopia,” Smith said.

He said the very reforms undertaken by Abiy Ahmed were reforms that H. Res. 128 has called for.

“For what he has accomplished in less than half a year, Prime Minister deserves praise and encouragement. Yet we still must keep in mind that expectations have been raised, and the reforms he has begun must continue,” Smith added.

Chris Smith and Congresswoman Karen Bass visited Ethiopia at the end of last month and met and held discussions with Dr. Ahmed and other government officials as well as representatives of civic, political and religious groups in Addis Ababa.

“What we have seen in Ethiopia over the last few months has been entirely remarkable,” Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado, also a staunch advocate for rights of Ethiopians has said. He added that “new reforms and changes under the leadership of Abiy Ahmed have started, what I believe to be a stronger path, inclusive democracy and new freedom.”

While progress has been made, Coffman said, troubling issues remain. He said there were still ethnic violence taking place in which many have died and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Witnesses from the State Department, Ethiopian-American Development Council, and Oromo Community of Denver, as well as others testified at the hearing that focused on recent developments in Ethiopia.