Wendy R. Sherman responds to the Washington Post Editorial
In response to Washington Post Editorial
Ethiopia is a valuable partner in a critical region, from peacekeeping to fighting al-Shabab to pursuing peace in South Sudan. Ethiopia, among the world’s fastest-growing economies, has made significant progress toward its Millennium Development Goals.
But stability, security and economic development are sustainable only with the development of democratic values. Ethiopia has a long road to full democracy, as I publicly said there. As President Obama suggested, my comments were aspirational in hopes that the upcoming election would be a step forward. Later in the trip, I said, “Ethiopia is a young country in terms of democracy and over time we hope the political system matures in a way that provides real choices for the people.” I highlighted that more journalists are in jail in Ethiopia than anywhere else in Africa. Civil society leaders told me, “They are about solving problems and being advocates for people who don’t believe they have a voice.”
The United States maintains a frank discussion with Ethiopia regarding democracy and human rights. In my meetings in Addis Ababa, I expressed concerns about restrictions on political space, arrests and imprisonments of independent journalists and use of antiterrorism legislation to stifle political dissent.
It is unfortunate the editorial mischaracterized my remarks and, more important, underestimated the fullness of our bilateral relationship. The U.S. government closely monitors the human rights situation and works with Ethiopia to foster a true democracy as part of our valued relationship.
Wendy R. Sherman, Washington