Biden administration “gravely concerned” that June 21 elections in Ethiopia may not be free, fair or credible, calls for dialogue

The Biden administration is “gravely concerned” that the June 21 elections in Ethiopia may not be free, fair or credible.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali address the media briefing at the conclusion of the Official Visit by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia at the Union Buildings in Tshwane. January 12, 2020 
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali address the media briefing at the conclusion of the Official Visit by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia at the Union Buildings in Tshwane. January 12, 2020

“The detention of opposition politicians, harassment of independent media, partisan activities by local and regional governments, and the many interethnic and inter-communal conflicts across Ethiopia are obstacles to a free and fair electoral process and whether Ethiopians would perceive them as credible,” U.S. Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. 

The administration described the exclusion of large segments of the electorate from the contest due to security issues and internal displacement as “particularly troubling.”

It, however, called on the government of Ethiopia and all Ethiopians to embrace inclusion and dialogue after the elections, adding that they should not be seen as “a singular event” but rather as part of a democratic political process that involves “dialogue, cooperation, and compromise.”

“To that end, we urge the Government of Ethiopia and all Ethiopians to commit to an inclusive, post-election political dialogue to determine a path forward to strengthen the country’s democracy and national unity,” Price said.

The hardening of regional and ethnic divisions in multiple parts of Ethiopia threaten the country’s unity and territorial integrity, the Biden administration added. 

“The period following these elections will be a critical moment for Ethiopians to come together to confront these divisions.  The United States stands ready to help Ethiopia address these challenges and find a path to a brighter future.  We stand with all Ethiopians working toward a peaceful, democratic, and secure future for the country,” Price added.

The elections will be taking place at a time when so many Ethiopians are suffering and dying from violence and acute food insecurity caused by conflict across the country.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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