US hails Ethiopian elections, warns of restrictions on media

by Trust Matsilele 0

The United States has hailed Ethiopia for the peaceful conduct of elections however warned that the country needs to promote more press freedom and civics participation. 

“We acknowledge the National Electoral Board’s organisational efforts and the African Union’s role as the only international observer mission on the ground. We also note the importance of the nine televised party debates as progress in fostering open public discussion of the challenges facing the country,” said Marie Harf, the US spokesperson, .

(READ MORE: Ethiopia’s impressive economic growth)

“We encourage all candidates, political parties and their supporters to resolve any outstanding differences or concerns peacefully in accordance with Ethiopia’s constitution and laws.”

However, the US urged the country to address other fundamental rights.

“The United States remains deeply concerned by continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views,” added the US.

“We regret that US diplomats were denied accreditation as election observers and prohibited from formally observing Ethiopia’s electoral process.”

The most powerful nation added that, apart from the election observation mission fielded by the African Union, there were no international observer missions on the ground in Ethiopia.

“We are also troubled that opposition party observers were reportedly prevented from observing the electoral process in some locations.”

The US called for a free media and more space for civil society.

(READ MORE: Ruling party seen winning Ethiopian vote, opposition says supporters harassed)

“A free and vibrant media, space for civil society organizations to work on democracy and human rights concerns, opposition parties able to operate without impediment, and a diversity of international and domestic election observers are essential components for free and fair elections,” added the statement.

“The imprisonment and intimidation of journalists, restrictions on NGO activities, interference with peaceful opposition party activities, and government actions to restrict political space in the lead-up to Election Day are inconsistent with these democratic processes and norms.”