My Take on Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia By Abel Asbineh Asfaw

July 21st, 2015 Print Print Email Email

US President Barack Obama will be traveling to Ethiopia at the end of this month. This makes him the first sitting US president to visit our country. The purpose of his visit, as stated by the White House, is to hold bilateral talks with Government officials in Ethiopia and African Union representatives regarding economic development, democracy and security.

I am on the side of many individuals and rights groups who firmly criticize the president’s decision to visit a country led by one of the most brutal regimes in Africa. His visit would mean endorsing a government that has been increasingly jailing political opponents, journalists and human rights activists that dared to openly criticize the regime.

I was mesmerized by President Obama’s electrifying speech he made to Dhana’s Parliament when he went to Accra, Ghana, in July 2009 in which he talked about the importance of strong democratic institutions and good governance for sustainable development. To use his own words, “Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.” Obama has stressed on the need to support the struggle for democracy in Africa on numerous occasions. However, it is now clear that his words were just empty promises and more of the usual diplomatic talks. The fact that the visit was announced immediately after the EPRDF government claims a sweeping victory in the national election makes his visit more shocking. The EPRDF regime in Addis Ababa has claimed 100% victory in the recent national elections held in May 2015. It swept all 547 parliamentary seats in this unheard-of election. This is a mockery on democracy and signals the peak of a complete totalitarian rule.

Ethiopia currently ranks 4th among the top ten most censored countries in the world according to the committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). There are countless opposition members, journalists and rights activists languishing in jail right now for exercising their constitutional rights to write and express their political views freely. To name a few, Eskinder Nega, Andualem Arage, Habtamu Ayalew, Abreha Desta, Temesgen Desalegn and many more. The recently freed bloggers and journalists were also a victim of the repressive regime who should not have been jailed in the first place as they were simply participating in their country’s affairs by expressing their political views by blogging. The government also goes as far as murdering those it considers as a threat to its power. Just recently, Semayawi party member Samuel Awekeand Tadesse Abreha of Arena- Medrek were brutally murdered by government cadres. The brutal regime in Ethiopia rules by fear, intimidation, corruption and purposely instigating ethnic division in order to extend its stay in power. It continues to arrest, jail, torture and kill innocent Ethiopians.

It is for this reason I and many concerned individuals and groups oppose Obama’s visit to Ethiopia. I believe the US should look into long term strategic partnership that can benefit both US interests in the region as well as Ethiopia’s rather than focusing on short term alliance with the dictatorial regime in Addis Ababa. The US should use its diplomatic and financial power to pressure the government of Ethiopia to open up the political space and hold genuinely free and fair election where all Ethiopians would have the opportunity to elect their chosen leaders. This in turn constitutes a democratic government that is stable, accountable and further more one that can play a dominant role in stabilizing the region as a whole.

On July 3rd 2015, thousands of Ethiopians demonstrated outside the White House in opposition to Obama’s visit to Ethiopia. In addition, The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, Washington Post, Foreign Policy Magazine and The Guardian were all critical of the president’s visit. The US State Department has time and again indicated that the human rights situation in Ethiopia is worsening from time to time in its annual human rights report by country. It might be too late to reverse the decision of his visit to Ethiopia. However, as Martin Luther King said “the time is always right to do the right thing.” Hence, I suggest Obama should listen to all these concerns from various individuals and groups and air their concern to the government of Ethiopia.
Abel Asbneh Asfaw

  1. Ashenafi
    | #1

    This visit shows that there need to be done more regarding exposing the true nature TPLF to the whole world. Diasporas everywhere need to engage in actively educating the public regarding the TPLF’s crimes. The politicians can be pressured by the public to change their policies.
    journalists can do a lot but it is not enough to pressure the politicians. Diaspora-Ethiopians need to brave hero fighting the informaton warfare..In the developed countries Information warfare is not a job for journalists but executed by trained military strategists .

    TPLF and Shabiya are two sides of the same coin. .The Badme war was just so both TPLF and Shabiya can get the dissatisfied opposition sympathizers in their country killed by people going to war with each other not knowing they have the same enemy. TPLF and Shabiya destroyed the muscles of both Ethiopia and Eritrea during badme war knowing the muscles will rise against the TPLF and Shabiya leaders inevitably since the leaders were addicted to abusing their power. Without the muscles in the people the brains of the oppositions were weakened.. . . Who better than Doctor Berhanu Nega to expose that TPLF and Shabiya are still partners clinging to power with any means necessary.

    Doctor Berhanu nega has a chance to make a huge dent and win major victory by exposing that TPLF and Shabiya are partners to the whole world.
    Not knowing Hailemariam Desalegn’s boss Debretsion Gebremichael is the main breeder of terror in the region the USA monitors all activities in the area to share it with Debretsion Gebremichael, then Debretsion Gebremichael inturn relays it to Shabiya making it almost impossible for anyone to win the information warfare against TPLF and Shabiya. Doctor Berhanu Nega can gather enough evidence from his position in Eritrea.

    All those that had been exposing TPLF are indeed fighting a war even in plain clothes. Abebe Gellaw won the war against Meles Zenawi. Who will win the war against Debretsion Gebremichael is a question that needs to be addressed by all opposition and even neutral habeshas right now. To win against debretsion and Co. we need to let all his allies know his true nature .

    . In 2005, Debretsion was appointed Director of the Ethiopian Information and Communication Development Agency (EICDA) because Meles Zenawi was convinced he needs to fight the information warfare with all his power so TPLF always continues to control the country. It has worked for TPLF so far but it won’t last. Their Crimes against humanity is close to reach more than anyone can deny. Currently on the record Debretsion Gebremichael is one of the three Deputy Prime Minster and the current Minister of Communication and Information Technology.
    .
    While it has been claimed Debretsion Gebremichael pursued doctoral studies at (or even received a degree from) Harvard University, he is on record as having received a PhD from a distance program at Capella University in 2011 a university. The university is accredited but the specific degree is not according to sources that fight information warfare with Debretsion Gebremichael. .

  2. Haddis Yilma
    | #2

    I understand the Mephistophelian nature of Obama when he let the Wall Street Boys go scot free. He is more to me a PR than real president. People are expendable to him as long as he does not use them. There is more state repression here in the US than in Africa. The police can kill Blacks with impunity and the prison system is to the brim with Afro-Americans and Mexico-Americanos to the hilt. So what is wrong to let Omar Bashir go home from South Africa air-port to Sudan safely? It the same dynamic with the scenario in Wall Street where they defrauded the investors on broad day light and go to the massage palm harbor. Why cry river about Obama’s visit to Finfine, when in fact, the same thing happening every day in his back yard. It is already dead-set whether you like it or not. Truth be told, Bush and Clinton has done more for Africa compared to Obama. Fact-check is avaiable

    እንግሊዘኛ አማርኛ

  3. Tesfom
    | #3

    Dear Author:

    Let me give you some perspective. The owner Aiga forum who is wanted on charges of defamation and smear campaign on another incident has once openly called President Barack Obama a “niggger”. Aiga forum is the offcial mouth piece and trumpet blower of the woyane junta. In what followed as a shameful act the website owner quickly removed the niggger insult once his posting went viral on the world wide web. Mr. Obama should be reminded he is visiting a regime that called hima nigger through its cuber mouth piece. No sitting president has visited a regime that disprespected him like this.

  4. Dawi
    | #4

    Abel said:

    [[..pressure the government of Ethiopia to open up the political space and hold genuinely free and fair election where all Ethiopians would have the opportunity to elect their chosen leaders. This in turn constitutes a democratic government that is stable, accountable..]]

    How are you going to have such a “genuine election” to take place?

    As Dr. Berhanu ones said you will have more than 100 people running for the top position? In a place where ethnic tensions exist, abject poverty and political chaos is rampant…? What “opportunity to elect” can we talk about?

    That is why the “development partners” such as US/Obama seem to be in the band wagon helping “the developmental state” to do its job because they understand it will eventually succeed in undermining its own social base to be replaced by “social democracy” or “liberal democracy”.

    Don’t you see that is the fastest way to benefit US’s long term interest?

  5. ገብሬ
    | #5

    obama የ ኢሃደግ እንግዳ ነው የአኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ እንግዳ አደለም

  6. Densa
    | #6

    Obama is the darling of high societies who landed him at the white House . Black Americans, on the other hand, perceive him as an outlier. According to professor Cornel West, Obama is the first Niggerized president. Listen his comment bellow.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JXQK3yIIvc

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