US secretary of State headed for Ethiopia, DRC, Angola
Kerry plans to talk to leaders of Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Angola during his seven-day long tour ending May 5.
…the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on media and civil society harms ties with the US
A spokesperson said America’s top diplomat’s visit will encourage “democratic development, promote respect for human rights, advance peace and security” along with engaging with Africa’s civil society and promoting trade, investment and development partnerships.
A statement from the US Department of State, released at the weekend said Kerry will co-convene the fourth session of the U.S.-AU High-Level Dialogue, that “will discuss a range of issues on which we partner with the African Union” in Addis Ababa.
Kerry will also meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and other high ranking officials to talk about the country’s efforts to advance peace and democracy in the region.
They will also seek to strengthen bilateral ties between Ethiopia and the United States.
However, Kerry’s visit to Ethiopia has been overshadowed by the arrest of six bloggers last week.
“The timing of the arrests – just days before the US secretary of State’s visit – speaks volumes about Ethiopia’s disregard for free speech,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“The nine arrests signal, once again, that anyone who criticizes the Ethiopian government will be silenced.”
Human Rights Watch urged Kerry to urge the Ethiopian government to end arbitrary arrests and release all activists as well as journalists unjustly detained or convicted.
“Secretary Kerry should be clear that the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on media and civil society harms ties with the US,” Lefkow said.
“Continued repression in Ethiopia cannot mean business as usual for Ethiopia-US relations.”
Kerry’s spokesperson said the Secretary of State will also meet with President Joseph Kabila of DRC to discuss Kinshasa’s progress in neutralising armed groups terrorising the country.
He will also meet Angola President José Eduardo dos Santos and commend him for Angola’s leadership of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the statement said.