By WILLIAM DAVISON, BLOOMBERG
Ethiopia’s crackdown on journalists, opposition ahead of May polls leads to funds cut
THE UK ended support for a programme funding public services in Ethiopia partly because of the Horn of Africa nation’s crackdown on journalists and opposition politicians in the run-up to May elections, the Department for International Development said.
The Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening decided to “accelerate” DfID’s withdrawal from the multi-donor funded Promotion of Basic Services (PBS) in January after making an initial decision in May 2014 to focus more on supporting economic development, according to a statement made to the UK High Court on March 4 and e-mailed to Bloomberg by DfID’s press office two days later.
“This was as a result of ongoing concerns related to civil and political rights at the level of the overall partnership in Ethiopia,” DfID told the court. “And in particular recent trends on civil and political rights in relation to freedom of expression and electoral competition, and continued concerns about the accountability of the security services.”
Ethiopia will hold parliamentary elections on May 24. Rights groups including Amnesty International and donors such as the US have criticized Ethiopia’s government for criminalizing dissent using a 2009 anti-terrorism law. Ethiopian officials say cases against the media and political activists haven’t infringed on constitutionally protected civil rights.
Ethiopian State Minister of Communications Shimeles Kemal wasn’t available to comment when contacted on Tuesday.