Washington says ethnic violence and arrests of opposition figures will raise doubts about the credibility of the vote.
The United States has said in the run-up to the Ethiopian elections that ethnic violence and the arrests of opposition figures raise doubts about the credibility of the vote.
Africa’s second most populous nation is holding elections on June 21 in which Prime Minister Abi Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 with promises to break the authoritarian past, is seeking a new mandate.
But the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s reputation was tarnished as he launched a military campaign in the Tigris region, where the UN on Friday warned tens of thousands of children risk of starvation,
“The United States is deeply concerned about the context in which this election is to be held,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday.
“The arrest of opposition politicians, the persecution of independent media, the partisan actions of local and regional governments, the many inter-ethnic clashes across Ethiopia are obstacles to a free and fair election. Will Ethiopians perceive them as credible?”
“Of particular concern is the exclusion of large sections of the electorate from this competition due to security concerns and internal displacement.”
Ethiopian elections continue after two delays. Last year, the electorate postponed the polls due to the coronavirus epidemic, and then postponed the voting from June 5 due to logistical problems.
The United States, historically an ally of Ethiopia, has expressed strong impatience with the settlement of the conflict in Abyssinia.
Fighting broke out in Tigray in November 2020 between the Tigre People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the former ruling party of the government forces.
The TPLF led the ruling Ethiopian coalition for nearly 30 years before Abi came to power after street protests. Abi later alienated the TPLF as soon as he took office, making peace with Eritrea’s longtime enemies, and tensions escalated.
Although Abi promised that hostilities in the Tigris would be short-lived, fighting continued for almost seven months, with reports of atrocities rising and world leaders warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The violence killed thousands of civilians and forced some to flee two million from their homes in the mountains.
In July last year, security forces arrested Jawar Mohammed, a leading opposition figure and fierce critic of the prime minister, following deadly protests in the Addis Ababa assassination of popular musician Hacalu Hundesa.
Authorities filed a lawsuit in September terrorism charges against aw loot and some leading activists. Aw’s lawyers have repeatedly claimed that he was imprisoned for his political views and called for his release.