Pentagon official says Ethiopia needs to move on – By Abebe Gellaw

December 21st, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Washington DC (ESAT)– Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense for Africa in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense, has said that Ethiopians have to move beyond the aftermath of elections 2005, which she referred to as a tragic time.

In an exclusive interview she gave to ESAT at the Pentagon, Ambassador Huddleston said that the aftermath of the 2005 elections left people feel excluded and bitter. “Ethiopia has to move beyond that time,” she said adding that both the opposition and the government need to begin “envisioning how they see Ethiopia in the future.” According to Ambassador Huddleston, Ethiopia is a great country but it can only be even greater “with all the people working together for the greatness and goodness of this country.”

She also noted that the U.S. Government had started bilateral talks with the Ethiopian government under the auspices of the State Department. “We are talking with Ethiopia about democracy, human rights, development and security,” she said.

Huddleston pointed out that she recently travelled to Ethiopia along with General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), and held talks with Mr. Zenawi and other senior government officials. She indicated that issues regarding human rights and democracy were raised during the talks and further revealed that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had set up a joint commission with the government to discuss democracy, economic and security matters.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense further pointed out that the United States has two major concerns in Africa, i.e. extremism and humanitarian disaster. According to Huddleston, the U.S. is trying to address security and stability concerns by building the capacity of African military forces. “We believe that it is not the United States or its allies who should be involved in Africa or intervene in Africa. It’s rather up to African nations, governments and militaries to resolve their own problems such as extremism and internal conflict,” she noted.

She added that the United States does not wish to see armies that abuse their own citizens. “All militaries have to understand basic human rights, international military law and how they treat the citizens of their own citizens.”

With regard to security and stability concerns in the Horn of Africa, Huddleston said that the sub-region is a great example of building the capacity of militaries under civilian leadership to deal with problems. “What the Department of Defense has done, along with the Department of State, under the overarching policy of the National Security Council, is to provide assistance to AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping effort in Somalia,” she said.

She further pointed out that the US is providing training, assistance and equipment to support Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers in Somalia and commended their impressive resolve to stabilize Somalia.

In relation to sanctions imposed on Eritrea by the UN Security Council, Huddleston stated that the sanctions were mainly imposed for Eritrea’s effort to destabilize the Horn of Africa by supporting extremist groups like Al Shabaab, which she described as a threat to the stability of the Horn of Africa.

The Assistant Secretary of Defense also says that despite the problems, Ethiopia has a democracy with a elections, a legislature and judiciary but needs to nurture civil society. But the renowned Ghanaian Prof. George Ayittey, President of the Free Africa Foundation, disagrees with the notion that Ethiopia under Mr. Zenawi is on a path of democracy. “Ethiopia is categorically not a democratic country; never has been for the past 50 years. Elections alone don’t make a country “democratic.” Meles Zenawi held fraudulent elections in May 2005,” he observed.

“When Ethiopians poured into the streets to protest the results, Zenawi’s goons opened fire on them, killing at least 200. He then locked up more than 30,000 opposition leaders and their supporters. This blatant fraud was repeated in the May 2010 elections, when Zenawi’s party, Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), secured 99.6 percent of the seats in Parliament – all but two of the 547 seats, effectively transforming Ethiopia into a de-facto one party state,” Ayittey said.

Prof. Ayittey called upon the US government to review its policy toward Ethiopia and make it more people-centered, rather than leader-centered. “For far too long, the US has invested much capital in the rhetoric of unsavory regimes, such as that of Zenawi. The brutal repression of the Zenawi regime runs counter to the freedom ideals the US espouses. More dangerously, the tyranny of the Zenawi regime may inspire the emergence of a rebel insurgency – exactly the same insurgency Zenawi waged against the dictator, Mengistu Hailemariam.”

Ambassador Huddleston, who served as US chargé d’affaires in Ethiopia during the 2005 election crisis, has told ESAT that she will be retiring at the end of this month and promised to have a more candid interview as a private citizen.

  1. Kudos
    | #1

    She is on the usual diplomatic niciety talks. Zenawi is not a democrat. Amabssodor Hudleston knows deep inside her heart that Zenawi is an evil tyrant, a full blown one. The USA is over and again on the wrong side of history. Tired of hearing such gimmicks replayed over and over.

  2. tewbel
    | #2

    To start with the US should stop the double faced policy in which they preach democracy on one side and on the other support it with money, arms, intelligence and politics, while knowing fully the misdeeds and bad governance of the Meles regime.
    This dounble edged policy does not work anymore,look at what is going on in the midle east, the US is loosing credibility amongst the people who are still revolting after the change in Egypt, Yemen. Iraq is very unstable and Afganistan’s future is very questionable.
    It is time for the US to stand with the people.

  3. yem
    | #3

    The usual mumbo jambo, what is new?

  4. Samuel
    | #4

    I don’t even know why any body would give an Ethiopian forum for this lady. She has been a big spokesperson of Meles Zenawi and his gangsters. Whether she is paid clandestinely is a question that every one should ask. We do not need her advise for anything Ethiopian and democratic changes since she does not believe in those concepts in the same vein as that of her friend, Meles Zenawi.

  5. stop
    | #5

    Personaly, I am tired of hearing words from this lady. I think most freedom lover, ethiopians agree with that. I don not know whay she is on the show now. We know her very well. She is another Meles. she proved it again by saying “those people who are arrested by Meles to get fair trail”. That is what Meles is saying, to our brothers and sisters who are in jail to get fair trail on his Kangaro Court. Come On Guys! Please do not make us more sick by bringing this lady on the show and tell us what we need to do. Ethiopins in 2005 and beyond are saying, we want move beyond that. why she telling us that now? That is what we are saying and we have been saying and we will continue saying that. I don’t want to hear anything from this killer lady.

  6. Oumeredin
    | #6

    Abebe failed to articulate the issues particularly when she told him that Melese is doing well in corruption control, particularly after the resent information about the outflow of 3.3 billion from the country. He also failed to challenge her assertion of the ” Ethiopia being the 6th fastest developing nation in the world”. I am disapointed! Sisay Agena is better cut for this kind of interview.

  7. Alemayhu Haile.
    | #7

    Oumeredin ,are you sure? you are disappointed.yes you are right. The Tigrian leader is incapable to manage the great country. because they are banda and thief. They stole 11.5 billion dollar from the country.This dictator and tyrant government should be eliminated from the country. Melese is an Aprtide and Nazy leader. All Ethiopian people have disliked this leader. we should fight and struggling this banda and cancer leader. Death for woyane with Cadera.

  8. Bula
    | #8

    Hey Oumer,
    I don’t seem to get it. This interview is actually great for ESAT. Zenawi is accusing ESAT of being terrorist. US officials are appearing on ESAT, whatever their views. So what is Zenawi going to do.
    This interview was held at the Pentagon. Do you think you can do a Hard Talk at the Pentagon? Hhh!
    We should also listen to voices that we do not like to hear…It helps to open our eyes wider… Thanks ESAT and Abebe Gellaw…

  9. Gigi
    | #9

    Does she really mean that, I mean about what she said what the oppositions and people should be doing?
    And she seems that she only remembers the 2005 election. This is funny or is it? And we are the six growing
    Economy in the world?……well I hope so…..but how then? But not that it is her business to make that wright or any
    of it as she said it or Americas problem. We all know this whole situation very difficult even to us Ethiopians to make
    Out of the matter let alone out siders who are mostly dealing with nation based on their interest no matter who
    They are dealing with.

    Thanks Abey!

  10. Gigi
    | #10

    We all know that this whole situation is very difficult even to us Ethiopians to make sense out of this matter let alone out siders who are dealing with nations based on their interest no matter weather they know who they are dealing with or not. Is what I meant to say at the end of my previous comment.

  11. Ferenj Lebaw
    | #11

    Ahahahahaaha . Echi Leba. Yesterday Zenawi was idolized by Tony Blair and the Brits. Now it is the Americans’ turn, because the Brits would have a hard time getting accepted. Are we stupid? What is the difference between the USA and the UK? Vicki is a criminal. Forget the 2005 election? She would not make this kind of statement in the USA. Does she think we don’t know her? after all that abuse and the abuse that is still goiung on? Forget your sorrows wash your face and stand for your democracy? and we are supposed to believe her and America and European election monitors? She probably thinks now is the time to suck this country dry. Are the special interests coming in soon Ms. Huddleston?

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