Saturday, November 10, 2012
Ethiopia, US look to strengthen ties after election
ADDIS ABABA: With a new leader in Ethiopia and American President Barack Obama re-elected, the two countries are looking to bolster their relationship.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn held talks here with visiting United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman on bilateral issues.
It comes as tension has been rising in the East African country over the future of politics after Desalegn replaced late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August as PM.
The Prime Minister told Sherman during Wednesday’s meeting that Ethiopia “was keen to further strengthen the existing co-operation with Washington, particularly in the areas of economy, security, human rights and democracy.”
Desalegn also expressed hope that the visit by Sherman, the State Department’s third-ranking official, “would further boost co-operation and development assistance the US was providing to Ethiopia.”
Sherman said later that the discussions with the Prime Minister were successful and affirmed that the existing bilateral co-operation would continue to be strengthened.
Analysts in Ethiopia told Bikyamasr.com that they are watching the relationship between Washington and Addis Ababa closely, wondering which direction the Obama administration, now without fears of an election backlash, will react to the ongoing reports of human rights abuses in rural areas.
“It is very interesting to see how, if they do, the relationship will change,” Monica Teneti, a former journalist and now political consultant to the European Union, told Bikyamasr.com. For her, she is hopeful that pressure will be put on Desalegn and the government to change policies.
“I think what we could see is a more forceful president on the international stage. Obama really has a chance to live up to his calls for hope and change that many people in Ethiopia have wanted for a long time. It will be vital for Obama to make an impact,” she said.
While it may be too early to call on the role the second-term presidency of Obama will have on Ethiopia, it appears Washington is not going to go about business silently, as evidenced by the top foreign affairs officials.