Wendy Sherman, US under secretary for political affairs, caused an outcry among the Ethiopian community online when she remarked that “Ethiopia is a democracy.” Some took it as a possible case that Wendy is not well informed about the situation in Ethiopia. Others took it as a paragon of US government’s conception of ‘democracy’ and its inconsistency in principle as it relates to democracy and human rights so long as US interest, cultural,military and economic -among others, are served.
Now it appears that Wendy was not just reflecting her own view when she remarked that “Ethiopia is a democracy”
At Daily Press Briefing on April 29,2015, Marie Harf, acting Spokesperson, was asked if Wendy’s remark on Ethiopia reflects the position of US government.
“Her statements fully [emphasis from the writer]reflect the U.S. Government’s positions on these issues. They do. Thank you.” replied Ms.Harf (please click here to read transcript)
It is not secret that the US government and the government in Addis Ababa do have a good relation from the outset after the collapse of Colonel Mengistu’s government in 1991. In fact, it seems the case that the relation with dominant entity in the ruling coalition goes back to their times as guerrilla.
The Ethiopian government has been one of the leading recipient of US aid and donation – apparently in exchange for the alliance on the war on terror and as a cost of keeping other US interests in Ethiopia.
Understandably, it could be expensive for the US to lose its ally in the horn of Africa by way of condemning Ethiopian government for over-repressive practice against the opposition party and against its overall poor performance on human rights at a time when countries like China are working towards fomenting relation with the regime in Ethiopia and at a time when the US is facing rivalry in alliance formation from states like Russia and China.
Yet, it clearly represents a moral crisis and hypocrisy for the US to continue to sacrifice “democracy” and the issue of human rights as a cost of keeping alliance – whether the purpose is military or otherwise.