Ethiopia reforming itself, unfazed by H. Res. 128
By Toumelisan Gebrewold
Tigrai Online, May 4, 2018
The US Congress had last March passed a resolution called ``House Resolution 128``, (boasted of kind of human rights-centered resolution) against Ethiopia. It autocratically calls for the respect of human rights and inclusive governance, among others. The Resolution was approved despite intense pushback led by one Senator Jim Inhofe – a stalwart ally of Ethiopia, to persuade Congress to reject the resolution.
Many unheeding congressmen and women took turns to give brief comments about the importance of the resolution with each commenting on the political crisis that has blighted Ethiopia. Others, oblivious of their brazen interference in the internal affair of the country, also allegedly pointed to the cost incurred in terms of human lives and loss of properties (they baselessly accuse the government for its `` highhandedness`` and merely referred `` an ever-shrinking democratic space``.
In a wanton violation of the sovereignty of Ethiopia and orchestration that played Jekyll and Hyde “H. Res. 128`` was forged to help recognize Ethiopia’s efforts to promote regional peace and security, and its partnership with the U.S. to combat terrorism, promote economic growth, and address health challenges.
Unabashedly, the `` Resolution calls on the Government of Ethiopia to lift the state of emergency, end the use of excessive force, release wrongfully imprisoned protesters, and improve transparency``, while at the same time urging protesters and opposition groups to use peaceful discussion and avoid incitement; gross denial of the glaring fact that the state of emergency did not protect the country from clear and present danger that might have perished more innocent lives and devastate incalculable amount of property.
Forgetful of Ethiopia’s partnership with US and its commitment to fight terrorism, at least, it also called on the U.S. government to base its future partnership with Ethiopia on the government’s “demonstrated commitment to democracy, rule of law and human rights.” It seems all hell broke loose with the approval of the Resolution and even though there is no sufficient evidence to pass this kind of non-binding law against Ethiopia. It urged the U.S. State Department, in coordination with the Department of the Treasury, “to apply appropriate sanctions on foreign persons or entities responsible for `` extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against any nationals in Ethiopia as provided for in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.”
Birds of a feather flock together. The New York-based organization Human Rights Watch had welcomed the approval of H. Res. 128 stating that “the non-binding resolution, combined with recent statements from the U.S. Embassy in Addis’’, sends strong signal to Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister that the U.S. expects significant reforms ahead”; unwilling to notice that reform is internal and Ethiopia is resolutely working to apply deep reforms along with the appointment and reshuffle of new cabinets.
Despite the evil actors who succeeded to help pass the law, some U.S. lawmakers like Oklahoma Senator, Republican James Inhofe had expressed objection regarding the timing of the vote given that Ethiopia has just inaugurated a new Prime Minister who has made a commitment to the public to implement democratic reforms. In this regard, Inhofe had briefed the congress that Dr. Abiy Ahmed was sworn in as Ethiopia’s new prime minister on a mandate to improve the afore-mentioned issues and time should be given to scrutinize and take further measures.
The Resolution is objectionable on the ground that the Congress should have given Prime Minister Abiy the opportunity to prove himself as a national leader before making him and Ethiopia suffer the full weight of the United States House of Representatives tossed against them; a heavy-handed, strongly-worded Resolution condemning Ethiopian; now Dr. Abiy is sworn in and striving full-fledged and the Resolution may severely curtail his ability to enact needed reforms.
Many suspect that the “Resolution 128 was passed in large part because of the heinous effort of anti-Ethiopian individuals who want to curb the political and socio-economic progress of Ethiopia, tarnish the good image of the country and strain Ethio-American relations. These hell bent Faustian groups and anti-Ethiopian sects worked like hell to help pass the vote and damage the development of Ethiopia; the hell bent group co-sponsored this Resolution to the disadvantage of Ethiopian people and retardation of democracy and development.
Following the news of the Resolution, many scholars and political scientists at home and abroad are expressing their concern that the Resolution is “untimely and inappropriate.” Seemingly, they are of the opinion that the Resolution is untimely because Ethiopia is for a while breezing with a new Prime Minister, who came to power just a month ago, following the resignation of his predecessor Hailemariam Dessalegn, opting for a solution for the protest and violence that plagued the country.
Needless to say, this knee-jerk Resolution is counterproductive and is against the significant partnership between the U.S. and Ethiopia. Indeed, members of the Congress who co-sponsored the resolution had “conspicuously failed to recognize the progressive reality on the ground.” Unequivocally, these members of the House merely wanted to please their constituencies in the Ethiopian Diaspora and Europe, rather than aiming to build the friendly relation of Ethiopia and America on bed-rock foundation.
Imposed reform cannot be successful on a country as sovereign and independent as Ethiopia. Currently, Ethiopia is on the cross roads. And at this historical juncture, when the government is working to implement bold reforms, the Resolution may serve the purpose of foiling the new political dynamism that calls for comprehensive political reforms; failed to recognize the far-reaching call being made by the new Prime Minister, at least.
It should not be forgotten that Ethiopia is an important ally of the US government, while the US is also an important partner in Ethiopia’s development, health as well as economic sectors. But, the current imposition under the banner of enhancing democracy is unacceptable and illegal to Ethiopia that has lots of agenda to liberate its people from the merciless grip of poverty.
So far, selfless Ethiopia has been working to advance the interest of regional partners and that of the United States including thoroughly contributions to the international peacekeeping, combating radical extremism and other forms of terrorism in east Africa, joining the UN and African Union operations.
However, the Resolution has bulldozed all these noteworthy endeavors of Ethiopia to ensure international peace and security. But no matter how challenging, Ethiopia will continue its sedulous work to thrive democracy and human rights by its own effort. Undeniably, the current Resolution may impinge on some aspects of the country. Notwithstanding, Ethiopia will keep on its journey in Dunkirk spirit to turn out victorious and reform itself, unfazed by the Resolution. It believes the Resolution may remain fruitless so far as citizens are backing the effort of the country.
Even though it is not binding law, the Resolution could not by any means be constructive as the two countries have enjoyed long-term and deep partnership. First and foremost, Ethiopia is striving to address human right related grievances and is exerting utmost effort to ensure human and democratic rights enshrined in the constitution (however, the Congress should have considered Ethiopia’s commitment to create better situations on the ground).
Undeniably, Ethiopia has long engaged itself on promising ways to promote democratic values and greater inclusivity, without any nudge and enforcement from external forces. As a spring board, for example, workable objectives were reflected by the Prime Minister while making his acceptance speech.
Ethiopia believes democracy and human rights are tightly correlated. Interestingly, laws enshrined in the Constitution of Ethiopia and other subordinate laws have vested premium interest up on human rights and enrichment of democracy; directly referring to Article 1 of the UDHR, the Constitution states that individual human rights are respected fully and without any limitation what so ever.
Similarly, Article 10 of the FDRE articulates “Human rights and freedoms, emanating from the nature of mankind are inviolable and inalienable: Human and democratic rights of citizens shall be respected’’. Thus, one can readily observe that human and democratic rights are the main concerns of Ethiopia without any heavy-handed and high-handed intimidation from external forces.
The principle of human rights is the bedrock and bulwark of the political, social, cultural, economic and environmental policy objectives of Ethiopia. Hence, unfazed by H. Res. 128, Ethiopia will resolutely continue enriching these assets in a tightly integrated manner.
Ethiopia underscores the fact that democracy and human rights are interwoven to the level one becoming non-functional without the other. In the context of Ethiopia being the emerging power of east Africa, the issue of democracy and human rights is flourishing with time and it is solely an everlasting assignment of the country to be undertaken without any coercive Resolution from external forces.