Monday, June 11, 2007

European Parliament admonishes Addis Ababa

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1215 06/06/2007

The Ethiopian Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos stayed away from a hearing held in Brussels on 5 June by the European Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee and Development Committee on the situation in Ethiopia two years on from the May 2005 election.

The Ethiopian ministry for foreign affairs gave the reason for the boycott in a letter to the Euro-MPs explaining that the invitation could not be accepted because “the list of invited speakers to this hearing does not indicate any intention to try and reach a balanced or accurate assessment of the stage of democratisation in Ethiopia today”. The list of incriminated speakers included Judge Woldemichael Meshesha Damtto, former deputy chairman of the investigation commission created after the demonstrations against the outcome of the elections from June to October 2005.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese socialist Euro-MP Ana Gomes, who had led the European mission to observe the 2005 election, qualified the attitude of the European Commission and the Member States as a “complete scandal”. They are continuing to do “business as usual” with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, even though the authorities in Addis Ababa violate, according to her, the principles of democracy and human rights which Ethiopia adhered to when it signed the Cotonou agreement in 2000. She called for targeted sanctions against Meles Zenawi and members of the Ethiopian government, consisting freezing assets and a refusal to issue visas, coupled with EU support for Ethiopian civil society. She is to go to Washington in the next few days to mobilise her colleagues in the US Congress to do likewise.