Washington says ethnic violence and arrests of opposition figures will raise doubts about the credibility of the vote.
The United States has expressed its concerns ahead of the Ethiopian elections, saying ethnic violence and arrests of opposition figures will raise doubts about the credibility of the vote.
Africa’s second most populous nation holds elections on June 21 in which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 with promises to break with the authoritarian past, seeks a new term.
But the reputation of the Nobel Peace Prize has been tarnished as it has launched a military campaign in the Tigray region, where the United Nations warned on Friday that tens of thousands of children risk of hunger.
“The United States is very concerned about the environment in which these upcoming elections will be held,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday.
“The detention of opposition politicians, the harassment of independent media, partisan activities by local and regional governments and the numerous inter-ethnic and inter-communal conflicts throughout Ethiopia are obstacles to a free and fair electoral process and if the Ethiopians would perceive them as credible, ”he said.
“The exclusion of large segments of the electorate from this contest due to security issues and internal displacement is of particular concern.”
Ethiopia’s elections continue ahead after two delays. Last year, election authorities pushed back polls due to the coronavirus pandemic and delayed voting from June 5 for logistical reasons.
The United States, historically an ally of Ethiopia, has shown growing impatience with Abiy and the management of the conflict in Tigray.
Fighting in Tigray erupted in November 2020 between government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The TPLF led the coalition that ruled Ethiopia for nearly 30 years until Abiy came to power after street protests. Abiy further alienated the TPLF by making peace with Eritrea’s usual enemies as soon as he took office and tensions increased.
Although Abiy promised that military operations in Tigray would be brief, almost seven months later, fighting continues, reports of atrocities proliferate and world leaders warn of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced some two million from their homes in the mountainous region.
In July last year, security forces arrested Jawar Mohammed, a leading opposition figure and fierce critic of the prime minister, following deadly protests following the assassination of popular musician Hachalu Hundessa in Addis Ababa.
In September, authorities filed terrorism charges against Jawar and several leading activists. Jawar’s lawyers have repeatedly stated that he was imprisoned because of his political views and have called for his release.