Obama Panders to Ethiopian Dictatorship

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On Monday, while visiting Ethiopia, President Obama qualified his mild criticisms of Ethiopia by saying his observations were made “from a position of respect and regard for the Ethiopian people, and recognizing their history and the challenges that they continue to face.”

Ethiopia is a dictatorship. It holds a large number of journalists and dissidents in its jails. In the last election, the ruling party received an absurd 100% of the vote. Nevertheless, in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam, President Obama twice referred to Ethiopia’s “democratically- elected government.” Prime Minister Hailemariam chimed right in, saying his country was on “the right track” and was a “constitutional democracy.” According to the prime minister, “two decades of democratization” were not enough to overcome “centuries of undemocratic practices and culture in this country.”

The White House claims that a more frank and presumably factual discussion was held behind closed doors. The New York Times’s Peter Baker quoted a senior administration official saying that privately, “Ethiopian leaders ‘expressed some discomfort’ with the ruling party’s sweep of the election because it was ‘not indicative of the kind of competition they want to have.”

- The remainder of this post can be read for free at Democracy Road, FPI Senior Fellow Ellen Bork's blog at World Affairs Journal

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