Ethiopia is one of the staunchest U.S. allies in East Africa. Not only does the country provide a convenient base for Middle East and African antiterrorism efforts, the U.S. considers the government very cooperative and stable.
But Ethiopia has been under scrutiny in recent years for cracking down against ethnically-driven dissent in the country. So when Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said he’d be releasing political prisoners on Wednesday, many western allies were satisfied.
In October, the U.S. Congress heard arguments for a resolution condemning Ethiopia’s human rights record and encouraging the release of political prisoners. That resolution never passed, leaving the prime minister’s move looking like a positive democratic one. Critics say it whitewashes the murder of at least 1,000 ethnic Oromo since 2015.
To discuss, we’re joined by Seenaa Jimjimo, president of the Coalition of Oromo Advocates for Human Rights and Democracy, and Charles Schaefer, professor of International Studies at Valparaiso University.