U.S. Policy Speech Gets Government Fumes

May 18 , 2024

  National dialogue and transitional justice emerged as key themes of the U.S. "foreign policy speech on human rights", addressed by U.S. Ambassador Ervin Massinga last week. He briefed the press on his country’s position on the political crisis in Ethiopia, advocating for a nationwide ceasefire for a path towards reconciliation. In a bold public statement, Massinga addressed adversarial forces in the conflict, urging them to stop targeting civilian infrastructure such as schools, health facilities, and water supplies. Along with armed forces in the regional states, Massinga addressed the government that "a security-focused approach will not solve complex political issues." He further advised the release of key political figures. "How a country defends itself reveals its character and will undoubtedly determine the course of future conflict and social cohesion," he said. The federal government took exception to the speech. The authorities in Addis Abeba saw "unsolicited advice" in his statements and characterised it as "allegations against" the government. Releasing a statement the next day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the policy speech, criticising it as "ill-advised and containing uninformed assertions."  However, the Ministry expressed its intention to address "factual inaccuracies and inconsistencies" through engagement with the U.S. Embassy.


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