US 'gravely concerned' by election conditions in violence-hit Ethiopia

Filed on June 11, 2021
A man looks at a billboard of the political party of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed,in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: AFP

Washington voices growing impatience with Ethopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Abiy and the handling of the Tigray conflict

The United States on Friday voiced alarm over conditions ahead of Ethiopia's elections, saying that ethnic violence and detentions of opposition figures will raise doubts about the vote's credibility.

Africa's second most populous nation holds elections on June 21 in which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 on promises to break with the authoritarian past, is seeking a new mandate.

But the reputation of the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been tarnished as he has waged a military campaign in the Tigray region, where the United Nations warned Friday that tens of thousands of children risk starvation.

"The United States is gravely concerned about the environment under which these upcoming elections are to be held," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

"The detention of opposition politicians, harassment of independent media, partisan activities by local and regional governments and the many inter-ethnic and inter-communal conflicts across Ethiopia are obstacles to a free and fair electoral process and whether Ethiopians would perceive them as credible," he said.

"The exclusion of large segments of the electorate from this contest due to security issues and internal displacement is particularly troubling."

The United States, historically an ally of Ethiopia, has voiced growing impatience with Abiy and the handling of the conflict in Tigray, which was launched in November in retaliation for attacks on military sites allegedly by the local ruling party.

Ethiopia's elections are going ahead after two delays. Election authorities last year pushed back polls due to the coronavirus pandemic, and then delayed the vote from June 5 due to logistical concerns.

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