A top diplomat of the United States says Washington “definitely wants to be partners in Ethiopia’s evolution” through technical assistance, financial reforms and investment.
Tibor Nagy, who was speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly said political and economic reforms in countries like Ethiopia and Angola were “prime examples” of how visionary leaders could transform countries and attract investor interest.
“The lamps are coming back on in an incredibly important region,” said Nagy, who was recently sworn in as U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa.
ALSO READ: Eritrea insists on lifting of ‘unwarranted’ U.N. sanctionsSince taking office in April, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ruling coalition has ended a state of emergency and released political prisoners, while also announcing plans to partially open up the economy to foreign investors.
In his boldest move, he has restored diplomatic ties and reopened the border with Eritrea, 20 years after the neighbors started a border war that killed an estimated 80,000 people.
Ethiopia PM walking a tightrope
Nagy said, however, recent protests in Ethiopia’s Somali region and on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa illustrated the delicate nature of political change in Africa’s second most populous country.
“The prime minister is in an extremely delicate situation because on the one hand if it’s too light of a touch and he doesn’t respond, then people’s lives are lost. If he comes in with too heavy a hand, then there is law enforcement brutality … that the government has been systematically criticised for now for decades.”
Indeed on Monday, Amnesty International warned against returning to the authoritarian rule after authorities arrested more than 1,200 people suspected of orchestrating the violence in the capital and the Oromia town of Burayu.
Elections are due in 2020, and Abiy has pledged a democratic electoral process and smooth transition if the ruling coalition loses power.