The United States says much as it shares security concerns raised by the Ethiopian government, the answer lay with ‘greater freedom and not less.’ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated the U.S. disagreement on a reimposed state of emergency. He stressed that the U.S. continued to monitor the ‘voluntary transition,’ ongoing in the country.
He was speaking during a press briefing along with Foreign Affairs Minister Workneh Ghebeyehu in Addis Ababa. He stressed the importance of strengthening the over 100 years of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in February to restore “law and order” after the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned suddenly. Although Ethiopia had looked like it was slowly opening up to allow more freedom for people who hold different opinions to the government, the resignation and emergency decree have triggered further political uncertainty and fueled strikes and shutdowns.
Tillerson critical of China’s policy in Africa
During the press conference, the US Secretary of State also repeated comments he made earlier in the week for African countries to ensure they don’t forfeit their sovereignty when they accept loans from China.
China surpassed the US in 2009 to become Africa’s biggest trading partner – and its share of trade continues to grow compared to the United States. China also pumps billions into infrastructure projects around the continent, although these have attracted criticism for using Chinese labor and firms, and low-quality materials.
Ethiopia is home to some of China’s biggest investments in Africa, from a railway to Djibouti that opened last year to factories and industrial parks – as well as the African Union headquarters, which Tillerson visited on Thursday.