WASHINGTON: On June 21, many Ethiopians will be able to cast ballots in elections, an important exercise of their civil and political rights.
These elections should not be seen as a singular event but rather as part of a democratic political process that involves dialogue, cooperation, and compromise. To that end, we urge the Government of Ethiopia and all Ethiopians to commit to an inclusive, post-election political dialogue to determine a path forward to strengthen the country’s democracy and national unity.
We recognize the efforts that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and its staff have made to prepare for these elections at a time when so many Ethiopians are suffering and dying from violence and acute food insecurity caused by conflict.
We urge politicians and community leaders to reject violence and to refrain from inciting others. All political actors and community leaders should seek to resolve grievances through negotiation, dialogue, and recognized non-violent dispute resolution mechanisms.
The United States continues to urge Ethiopia’s leaders to support a free media and an active civil society. We urge the government to respect the right of citizens to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and to reject the use of Internet shutdowns or network restrictions.
The United States is gravely concerned about the environment under which these upcoming elections are to be held. The detention of opposition politicians, harassment of independent media, partisan activities by local and regional governments, and the many interethnic and inter-communal conflicts across Ethiopia are obstacles to a free and fair electoral process and whether Ethiopians would perceive them as credible. The exclusion of large segments of the electorate from this contest due to security issues and internal displacement is particularly troubling.
The hardening of regional and ethnic divisions in multiple parts of Ethiopia threaten the country’s unity and territorial integrity. The period following these elections will be a critical moment for Ethiopians to come together to confront these divisions. The United States stands ready to help Ethiopia address these challenges and find a path to a brighter future. We stand with all Ethiopians working toward a peaceful, democratic, and secure future for the country.