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Members of Congress Weigh In Regarding Political Instability In Ethiopia

November 6, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa issued the below joint statement with Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jamie Raskin (R-MD), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) regarding instability in Ethiopia.

"We are deeply concerned about the ongoing crises in Ethiopia that have the potential to further destabilize the country while endangering civilians’ lives and liberties and call for a ceasefire and national dialogue.
Tensions between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have escalated into military operations and a federal state of emergency in the Tigray Region. While details remain scarce, we express our deep concern for the risk for violence in the area and we implore both sides to engage in dialogue and de-escalate the situation because any fighting between TPLF forces and federal forces risks destabilizing the country and potentially the region.  Ultimately, civilians must be protected.

"The horrific mass killings of ethnic and religious groups by nonstate actors in Ethiopia are increasing in frequency. We urge the Government of Ethiopia to take all necessary measures to prevent further massacres of ethnic and religious groups across the country. We also call on the Government to conduct full and transparent investigations into the recent attacks against Amharas in Benishangul-Gumuz Region, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region, and Oromia Region and hold the perpetrators accountable. 

"The Oromia Region continues to experience unrest following the June 29th murder of a popular ethnic Oromo singer. We have concerns regarding the excessive use of violence and the targeted killings in the region including by civilians.  We also express concerns for excessive violence by any federal security forces against peaceful demonstrators in Oromia and other Regions. In addition, the Government of Ethiopia continues to detain opposition political figures, journalists, and activists who speak out against these actions. We urge the Government of Ethiopia to demonstrate respect for due process and ensure fair, transparent, and expeditious trials for those arrested.  We urge the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that citizens can exercise their rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and the press as provided for in Ethiopia’s Constitution and international law. Ultimately, we encourage the government to refrain from the use of tools of political repression used by past Ethiopian regimes.

"All of the above crises in Ethiopia exemplify the country’s decades-long debate over the balance between group and individual rights and central versus decentralized governing institutions. To solve these issues, we urge all peaceful actors from across Ethiopian society to engage in respectful dialogue required for long-term political reform. Prime Minister Abiy has taken steps to begin this process since he came to power, but the current atmosphere of democratic backsliding and ethnic and political violence threatens to reverse that progress. 

"As a long-standing ally of Ethiopia, the United States should stand ready to provide the necessary diplomatic tools for Ethiopians to take part in ensuring transitional justice for their country. We also encourage the African Union and regional partners to play a role in mediating these various crises. Finally, we welcome the electoral board’s efforts to work with stakeholders to find a new date for elections in 2021 and encourage Ethiopian authorities to similarly pursue an inclusive dialogue to put the country’s reforms back on track."