June 18, 2010

Election results show Ethiopia's move toward one-party rule: U.S. expert

"Those who care about Ethiopia and the region now face a key question: were
the May 2010 elections a casualty of a broader agenda of repression and
control, or was the agenda of repression and control primarily an electoral

Leslie Lefkow, HRW

Election results show Ethiopia's move toward one-party rule: U.S. expert

WASHINGTON, DC - The results of recent elections in Ethiopia show the country is inching toward a one-party rule, and now Meles Zenawi, the prime minister, has been in power longer than the military dictator he toppled in 1991, said Ted Dagne, an American expert on the Horn of Africa.

Ted made the statement during a congressional hearing presided over by Congressman Donald Payne (D-JN), chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"Pre-election conditions were marred by the harassment, detention, and in some cases killing of opposition members. The combination of measures taken by the ruling EPRDF over the past several years not only weakened legal opposition but also crushed civil society, human rights groups, and the independent press activities," Ted said.

He said opposition leaders, civil society groups and independent journalists who fled the country for fear of persecution also helped EPRDF consolidate its gains.

"Some Ethiopians and outside observers also assert that many were fearful of being killed or injured should they express open support for the opposition as was the case in the 2005 elections." he added.

The expert also blamed the opposition groups for squandering precious time over inter- and intra-party squabbles rather than forging a formidable united front against the ruling party. (Ted Dagne's full text is downloadable here.)

Testimonials available here

Others who testified were Leslie Lefkow, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch; Sadia Ali Aden, Human Rights Advocate and Freelance Writer; Kenneth John Menkhaus, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science at Davidson College; and Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Source: Ethiomedia

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