US Secretary of State advocates for more freedom


During his first official visit to Ethiopia and Africa in general Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State of the US, expressed his concern about the state of emergency, while appreciated the outgoing PM’s resignation as symbolic shot in the arm for democracy.
The Secretary, who visited the continent for the first time as Secretary, spoke about the current situation in Ethiopia and the economic and other ties between the two nations and the continent during a joint press conference with his counterpart in Addis Ababa Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD).
He was reminded about the concern that his government announced via its embassy a few weeks ago about the fresh state of emergency a day after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn.
“We recognize and share concerns expressed by the government about incidents of violence and loss of life. We do firmly believe the answer is greater freedom for people, not less,” Secretary Tillerson said.
“Given recent events, the United States has expressed our concerns with the government’s decision to impose another state of emergency, because it does put restrictions on fundamental rights like assembly and expression. We also discussed in our exchange the importance of ensuring that security forces remain disciplined in maintaining law and order, preventing violence,” he added.
He argued that his government firmly believes that democratic reform, economic growth, and lasting stability are best addressed through an inclusive political process, rather than through the imposition of restrictions.
He also asked for the public to be patient.
Such kind of statements from the US, which is one of the major allies for this government, is unusual. Other western allies have also expressed their concern about the state of emergency decree that may last six months. Workneh in his latest discussion with the diplomatic community based in Ethiopia has said that the state emergency may not last long. He said that when the new PM is elected the decree could be lifted. The executive council of EPRDF, the ruling front, is expected to meet today and discuss who the party  chair and potential upcoming PM would be.