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US Committed to Strengthen Ethiopia's Democracy

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Recognizing Ethiopia as Africa's fastest-growing economies, the United States of America today underlined its commitment to strengthen democracy and human rights of the African country.

In her remarks at "Toward a Democratic Ethiopia" Event in Washington DC, Deputy Assistant Secretary Karen J. Hanrahan speaks about the U.S. Government's policy towards Ethiopia in relation to democracy and human rights.

"The U.S. Government is committed to working with Ethiopia both the government and the people to strengthen respect for democracy and human rights." -Ms. Hanrahan

Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi in July, 2008. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
She says advancing democracy and human rights is one of US highest priorities in its engagement with Ethiopiaand for all of Africa.

Ms. Hanrahan stresses that the discussion comes at a critical time, with the recent death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the peaceful transition to the leadership of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

"It is clearly a time of change in Ethiopia, a time of new challenges and new opportunities." -Ms. Hanrahan

The US government is committed to supporting Ethiopia in this transition period to remain stable and to take serious steps that advance fundamental freedoms.

According to Ms. Hanrahan, the US has a strong team at the Embassy in Addis and they are all working together to identify opportunities to advance democracy and rights on the ground.

"We understand this is Ethiopia's best chance for long term stability and prosperity." -Ms. Hanrahan

President Obama and Secretary Clinton have changed the game for democracy and human rights around the world, she noted.

Both leaders have moved the ball forward to a new era where security, democracy, and human rights are not viewed as competing priorities but rather as equally important policy objectives that must be advanced simultaneously whenever possible, Ms. Hanrahan stressed.

The U.S. Government's commitment to democratization is detailed in the U.S. Strategy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa published in June 2012, she reported.

Ms. Hanrahan notes that U.S. Government commitment to democratization includes working to promote accountable, transparent, and responsive government; to bolster positive democratic models in the region; to promote and protect human rights, civil society, and the independent media; to ensure a sustained focus on the credibility of democratic processes; and to promote strong democratic norms.

"As I've stated, the U.S. Government is committed to working with Ethiopia to strengthen respect for democracy and human rights." -Ms. Hanrahan

To strengthen Ethiopia's respect, the US government is working to bolster civil society, improve media freedom, expand political space, and support respect for human rights in the judicial sector and security forces.

It is also committed to working with Ethiopia to strengthen regional stability and security as well as to promote economic development.

Ms. Hanrahan cites that Ethiopia has made tremendous progress in both these areas.

She states that the U.S. Government is working to advance democracy and human rights, regional stability and security, and economic development in Ethiopia all at the same time.

Advancing human rights and democracy in Ethiopia is critical for several reasons, she said.

"The first reason is that advancing human rights in Ethiopia is part of our effort to support global implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." -Ms. Hanrahan

She adds it is a US national security objective, a foreign policy priority, and a value of the US of America.

Second, democratic institutions and respect for human rights are important for ensuring the long-term stability of Ethiopia, she noted.

Ethiopia is a very diverse nation, with many religious, ethnic, and regional groups, she said.

Violence is less likely to occur in societies where citizens are able to channel grievances through peaceful processes, and when responsive and accountable government institutions respond to these needs, Ms. Hanrahan explained.

"Finally, responsive democratic institutions and rule of law enhance economic development and regional security." -Ms. Hanrahan

Last month, Ethiopia's parliament has selected in Hailemariam Desalegn as the new prime minister on Friday.

Reports say Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn succeeds former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died on last month due to an unknown illness.

The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front which controls majority of 546 of the 547 seats in parliament has announced Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn as the choice for prime minister.

The The United States warmly has welcomed Ethiopia's selection of Hailemariam Desalegn as the country's new Prime Minister and Demeke Mekonnen as the new Deputy Prime Minister.

In August this year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died at the age of 57 after suffering from an undisclosed illness in a hospital in Brussel, Belgium.

Reports say PM Zenawi was not seen in public for about two months. PM Zenawi reportedly missed to attend a meeting of AU heads of state in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The passing of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi gained worldwide coverage as he was considered as one of the powerful leader on transforming Ethiopia into one of Africa's fastest-growing economies during his 21-year reign. He was one of Africa's strongmen.

PM Zenawi was considered to be a key US ally in the war on terror as well.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has expressed sadness to learn of the passing of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

PM Zenawi was an important and influential voice in Africa, and the United States especially valued his role in promoting peace and security in the region.

In addition, PM Zenawi had been active in the Ethiopian politics since 1991. when he served as President. He became Prime Minister in 1995.

Ethiopia is among the countries that are on track to meet the goal of eradication poverty. PM Zenawi has played an important part in this work as recognized by other African states.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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