The Ethiopian-American Council (EAC) is a national non-profit and non-partisan organization whose mission is to promote issues that affect Ethiopia and Ethiopian-Americans. During the last ten months, EAC, in collaboration with its supporters and members across the United States, has been lobbying Congressional representatives across the United States, to pass a bill urging the government of Ethiopia to hold orderly, peaceful, free and fair elections in 2005.
We are pleased to report again that the bill that calls free and fair election in Ethiopia has been re-introduced for consideration in the US House of Representatives.
Free and Fair Election in Ethiopia legislation made an early- and welcome- start in the African Subcommittee in October 2004. Time ran out in the 108th Congress for H.R. 5321. This year, in the 109th Congress, Representative Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), reintroducing the bill as H.R. 935. The Vice Chairman of Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations Representative Edward Royce (R-CA) is co-sponsor of H.R. 935.
It urges the government of Ethiopia to ensure a free and fair election, to allow all political parties, including the banned groups in exile, to fully participate in the political process without violent political retributions, and requests the United States Congress to make provision for the necessary appropriation for elections related activities to monitor the Ethiopian national elections.
The introduction of the Bill (H.R. 935) in the House, undoubtedly, marks a major milestone in our efforts to guarantee a fair political process in the 2005 election. As the members of Congress deliberate over the bill, we urge the US media to voice the serious flaws in the current political system in Ethiopia.
The overall situation in Ethiopia is deteriorating. The United Nations the 2002-2003 report on the food crisis in Ethiopia. The report says: "… more than 13 million people were in need of urgent humanitarian assistance." Indeed, these are staggering numbers.
According to the Associated Press, Oct. 18, 2004, “Martti Ahtisaari, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy for the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, said that Ethiopia needs to change key policies to avert future emergencies in the nation of 67 million people, one of the world’s poorest, where the average annual income is about $100. He went on to say, "I think we need to worry because we are talking about millions of human lives. No one wants to be dependent forever."
Athisaari is quite right in stating that Ethiopia cannot afford to exist in perpetual crisis, largely due to misguided economic policies of the Ethiopian government. With donor fatigue spreading throughout the world, it is imperative to have a democratically elected leadership in Ethiopia to tackle the pressing economic, social and political problems facing the country, before they escalate into a full-blown crisis.
The United States of America is home for hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians. Though Ethiopians are gradually integrating into the mainstream of American society, they still have a greater affinity with their Ethiopian homeland, and very much want to see a prosperous and democratic Ethiopia.
In lieu of that fact, we hope that your news agency recognizes the importance this community attaches to the upcoming election in Ethiopia and gives it the coverage it so deserves.