Ethiopia: Yamamoto Meets Press, Speaks on CSO Bill, Birtukan – Yonas Abiye (Daily Monitor)

February 26th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

Addis Abeba — US ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto on Monday met and held discussion on a host of outstanding issues in the context of the bilateral relations between the two countries.

In his monthly round-table discussion with journalists, the ambassador also responded-tried to respond- to a number of questions from reporters.

The new NGO bill and the re-arrest of the leading opposition figure Birtukan Mideksa dominated the discussion and the question to the ambassador.

Speaking on CSO bill, Ambassador said the law remains confusing as, he said, it has a lot of contradictions.

Asked whether it was reluctance on the US government or firm Ethiopia’s resistance that there was not as yet any change to the law, Yamamoto said: “We are trying to consolidate the issue with Ethiopian government.” He added “We recognize the right of all countries to make a statement on their own laws on CSO or NGOs. So the law is not unique,” he said while elaborating his effort.

“You have to have some types of coordination and also how you do recognize. Because you have some issues who is CSO or who is NGO. How do we get the money? So it’s true each country has the right to regulate international organizations. But the issue we said is in the implementation process. It is how it gone be implemented.” Yamamoto said the new law will prove problematic when it comes to implementation.

“We really think there is lot of contradiction. We are not quite sure how that can be implemented. The issue comes in the next year during the implementation stage” he said adding: “We are working very hard to consolidate with the government.” According to him, 67% of US assistance to Ethiopia is given through NGOs and CSOs and the lion’s share goes to grass roots development, “as we cannot go to all part of the population of Ethiopia which is estimated around 74 million.” Yamamoto stressed the need to have a clear understanding so as to draw a line between what we consider as CSOs and the so called NGOs as much as we have to know which group of the society this will affect.

“We have to know also the definition that is why it is so critical to understand. What parts of the assistant groups would be affected and why,” Yamamoto said.

Speaking about government’s recent action against Birtukan, he said it was a tragic-both for the detained and the government.

“To me the case is very tragic for the Ethiopian government and Birtukan, including for all opposition parties in the country.” Yamamato said he hoped the issue will be resolved peacefully for the benefit of all the parties involved.

The ambassador hailed the recent move by the opposition in forming an alliance saying “the good step would facilitate and promote dialogue with the government.

“It makes them stronger and helps to make decisions,” he said.

He, however, seemed sceptical on the possibility of a smooth and constructive dialogue between the ruling party and oppositions in the run up to the next national election.

He said he expected the dialogues to be full of emotionally charged debates and wrangling.

But the dialogue will be instrumental for both the government and the opposition” he said.

The ambassador said Birtukan’s arrest will not affect the long standing and strong relation that exists between Ethiopia and the US “I don’t think Birtukan’s case will be a barrier for our relation, if we continue towards an open and democratic election,” he said adding however that Birtukan case was a very sensitive issue.

Ambassador Yamamoto did not want to further comment on that-until the next roundtable, may be.

  1. Abebe
    | #1

    YaMAMOTO is maintaining the status quo and is neither changed nor tries to change the incorrect/devastating Bush policy in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region in general. ” Bertukan’s arrest does not US-Ethiopia relations”..funny. In fact we Ethiopians are the actors and audiences of our domestic problem but should also influence Obama adminstration to change the old Bush policy scrambling Ethiopia and the region. Should say NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!NO More

  2. Abebe Teklu
    | #2

    Yamamotos’position on Birtukan is not only concilatory but also a sell out policy on the core values of democracy especially that of human rights protection.There is nothing surprising when viewed against the backdrop of his shameful position on the incarceration of the leaders of CUDP in 2005-2007.

  3. Yadata
    | #3

    I’m very stunned why Mr. YaMAMOTO is still in Ethiopia. I thought we change the course going from dectatership to peoples gov’t. I hope I’m taking lecture from the Bush any more. We don’t expect help from YaMAMOTO or the US. We just want them to leave us alone.

  4. wolikati
    | #4

    ደብዳቤ ለኦባማ አድምንስትሬሽን ጸፎ ያማሞቶ ከስራው እንዲነሳ ዘመቻ ያስፈልጋል:: የቡሽ እርዝራዥ እስካሁን ምን እንደሚያደርግ ይደንቃል:: ሌላው ገንዘባችን ለወያኔ የሚሰጥበት ምክንያቱን ለኮንግረሶቻችን መጠየቅና ማስቆም ይጠይቃል::

    እንቅልፋችንን ተኝተን ይህንን ዱርዬ ወያኔ ማስወጣት አንችልም:: በወረቅት እየጻፉ አቤት ከማለት ወደስራ የሚሄድ ሰው ያስፈልጋል::

    ተነሱ እንበርታ

  5. Ahmed
    | #5

    I think that the US Foreing Ministry Policy is, something like a mysterious iceberg which its 9/10 are under the sea. Any president, be it Bush or Obama may try to do something about, only the visible 1/10 of the iceberg. You see, the picture has to be looked from a diffrent angle, close by or comparativelly distant. So, Burtukan’s casa is stirictlly an Ethiopian problem because, she chooed to be back in Addis-Abeba for a political fight.

  6. Tomas
    | #6

    Why he is still there, we have already voted for change

  7. Michael
    | #7

    You guys; why are you expecting a lot out of America? It is much better for America to be a friend of the Ethiopian government rather than the Ethiopian people as its interests will be implemented by the government not by the people. You could understand this from Clinton’s recent statement on China’s human rights issue when she said that the human rights issue will not interfere in other relations with China that US believes are critical. Birtukan’s case is of little significance to US as long as its interests in the region are promoted by Ethiopian government. Let us not cry always as a dumb stupid boy. States do not have friends only interests.

  8. Tizibt
    | #8

    This is really a shame. Yamamoto is still echoing Bushes’ policies in Ethiopia, when we voted for change. What does he mean by saying “I don’t think Birtukan’s case will be a barrier for our relation, if we continue towards an open and democratic election”? Is he implying that unlawful detention is ‘democratic’ and is in conformity with the principles of human rights? If this is so, then there is no difference between the Obama Administration’s policies and those of the previous Administration. Mr.Yamamoto, please spare us your “double speak”. We have had it up to our neck during the Bush era. The Ethiopian people demand respect. The least the Obama Administration can do now is to give respect for a long suffering people.

  9. Sharki
    | #9

    On all my conversations I told you ethiopians to free Ethiopia from the shakel of the Americans. The NGOs are tools sent by sthe state department to stracture the Ethiopians gavernmental policies. The great land of Ethiopia can produce mircale had it governed by it own people without the interferance of the west. Unity is a paramount importance for Ethiopia. The Gebrehiwet Mebrahtu aka Berket Simon and the Legese Z. are nothing but tools of the State Departime. When they are told to jump, thier response is how high. Talk is cheap rise united and get rid of the scum of the earth call weyane. So prisners can be feed, harmony can final rain within all ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Ethiopia don’t need the Yamamotos who doing their poletical internship to further their creers.

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