The Canadian Foreign Affairs minister, Stephane Dion, is urging Ethiopia to undertake timely and meaningful reform in order to benefit all citizens during its state of emergency. According to EIN News, the Canadian government is concerned about the rising deaths and unrest in the country. Dion made the comments during a visit to the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, where he met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
“The minister also participated in an in-depth exchange with civil society representatives, highlighting the need for democratic space, pluralism and respect of fundamental freedoms for any political dialogue to be successful,” EIN News reports.
A state of emergency was declared in Ethiopia on October 8th in an attempt to curb rising violence stemming from protests by the Amhara and Oromo ethnic communities. The communities are demanding equal access to economic, political, and social resources, while the current administration seeks to restore order. The six-month state of emergency has resulted in human rights abuses, the destruction of property, attacks on foreign-owned businesses, and has reduced investor confidence in the country.
As of November 12th, the emergency has resulted in 11,607 detentions, with 347 of them being women, according to the State of Emergency Inquiry Board Chairperson, Taddesse Hordofa.
Dion’s statement on Ethiopia is just the latest warning by the international community, which has consistently urged the East African country to respect the human rights of its people since the state of emergency was declared. In October, the United Nations and European Union also called for the same.
In addition to Ethiopia, Dion also visited Nigeria and Kenya in an attempt to strengthen Canada’s multilateral ties some of Africa’s leading economies. During his visit to Nigeria, issues such as governance, security, and counterterrorism were discussed according to the Africa Newsroom. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous and richest country, yet it has been plagued by terrorist threats from the Boko Haram militia group.
In Kenya, discussion centered around issues of shared interest and concern. For instance, the role women play in peace and security and the important contributions Kenya has made to regional security and peace building were top items on the agenda.
Although many African countries continue to deal with conflict, the Canadian government’s investment in the continent is a sign that it has great economic, political, and social potential. These factors that prompted Dion’s visit, which was his first in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Africa has seen strong growth and progress in reducing poverty over the last decade. However, some African countries continue to face instability and armed conflict, which impact regional and international security and threaten to limit the benefits of growth for the next generation,” reads the statement by the African Newsroom.
“The consequences for our shared international security and prosperity cannot be underestimated. The dynamism at play across the continent is calling out for Canadian engagement, and this visit is an opportunity to support African governments as they channel that dynamism for the benefit of their people.”
BY CAROLINE THEURI