US president Barrack Obama arrived at Bole International Air Port, Addis Ababa,a few hours ago to a cloudy sky marked with rainbow, something Ethiopians tend to relate to spirituality. In fact, rainbow is called “Ye Maryam Mekenet” literally a long scarf like piece used by the Virgin Mary.
Obama left for Addis earlier today after wrapping up his visit in Kenya where his effort to bring same sex marriage issue to the limelight was cast aside by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Obama was greeted by Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Deslagne and his cabinet members up on his arrival at Bole international Air port.
According to Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation news, Obama is expected to hold talks with Hailemariam Desalegne and Mulatu Tseshome, more like a ceremonial president of Ethiopia, on bilateral, regional and security issues.
In addition, Obama is expected to discuss South Sudan with leaders from the region and Dr.Mulatu Teshome of Ethiopia, according to the report by EBC.
Barrack Obama is the first US sitting US president to visit Ethiopia and he will be meeting with leaders of the African Union (AU) during his three days stay in Ethiopia.
The security arrangement in Addis Ababa is very tight. US air force helicopters are seen in the skyies of Addis Ababa and US security personnel assumed greater part of security task in Addis Ababa just like what they did in Kenya.
There is great enthusiasm and excitement among supporters of the regime in power about Obama’s visit to Ethiopia. For them, Obama’s visit is a validation that the Ethiopian government is on the right track on all the things it is doing.
On the other hand, reputable human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch and Ethiopian activists are crying foul opposing Obama’s visit on grounds that Ethiopian government has turned out to be a total tyranny. In addition to the recent 100 % election win, these group point to recent killings of opposition figures, attacks on the free press and media – among other things – to prove the point that Ethiopia is under total repression.
Twitter campaign under the hashtag #ObamainEthiopia is highlighting dimensional problems wrought about by the regime in Ethiopia
With prevalence of harassment of opposition members and killings, political forces in Ethiopia seem to think that peaceful opposition is virtually impossible and not realistic to effect change for the better.
Increasing number of Ethiopians are thinking in terms of armed struggle to effect regime change.
In fact, a rebel group based in Northern Ethiopia is gaining momentum as the political condition in Ethiopia proves that involvement in opposition politics is risky.
Weeks before Obama’s arrival, Ethiopian government releases incarcerated bloggers and journalists including Reyot Alemu. There are, however, quite high numbers of journalists, bloggers and opposition members in prison. For example, about half of bloggers group of Zone 9 are not released, blogger Eskindir Nega, renowned journalists like Temesgen Desalegne – just to name few – are still in jail.
Would Obama’s visit influence change in the over repressive political climate is a question that lingers among some at least in the quarter of human rights and political activism. Yet, there is a considerable number of Ethiopians who seem to be indifferent about Obama’s visit to Ethiopia and expect no change because of his visit.