Ethiopia Must Set Right Environment for Election, US Says

The United States said it “strongly supports democratization in Ethiopia” as it nears a national election June 5, while noting a “free, fair, and credible election” can happen only with a conducive electoral environment.  The statement comes amid a humanitarian crisis and conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Dina Mufti addresses the media during a briefing regarding the current situation of the country in Addis Ababa, May 8, 2021.Former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn told VOA it is not possible to have an election in the Tigray region, adding “there are some real concerns as to the viability of an election on June 5th” in Ethiopia, outside of Tigray. The unrest and restrictions on outside observers have led some to question the electoral process. On May 3, the European Union High Representative Josep Borrell issued a statement announcing the cancellation of an election observation mission to Ethiopia. Borrell cited disagreement “on key parameters” for an EU Electoral Observation Mission. “As conditions are not fulfilled, the deployment of the mission has to be cancelled,” the statement added. ‘Deep concerns’On Monday, a bipartisan U.S. congressional statement expressed deep concerns for the continued presence of Eritrean forces in Tigray. “The only viable path toward a durable cessation of hostilities and inclusive political dialogue will not be found through military action. The continued presence of Eritrean forces, who have been credibly implicated in gross violations of human rights in Tigray, is a major impediment to resolving this conflict,” said congressmen Gregory Meeks, the chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Michael McCaul, the ranking member of the committee. The U.S. will continue to pause non-humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia to pressure Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government to do more to end atrocities in Tigray. But the State Department will continue other humanitarian aid to the country.  “As we consider our aid to Ethiopia, we want to make sure that in the first instance, we’re not doing anything that would place a further burden on the people of Tigray, who are in such humanitarian plight,” said Price. “We want to make sure that as we consider any future steps that we continue to do all we can to support them,” he added.  The Tigray crisis was among issues discussed at last week’s G-7 foreign ministerial meetings in London. In a communique, foreign ministers called on “all parties to cease hostilities immediately, ensure the protection of civilians and respect human rights and international law as well as media freedom and access, and hold those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence, accountable.”