The upcoming official visit by United States President Barack Obama has sparked fierce debate between thrilled diplomats and concerned activists in the US.
Former diplomats say that Obama’s visit, a first for a sitting American president, is welcome news that recognizes the two countries’ ever-increasing ties. Meanwhile, human rights activists say the visit could be seen as an endorsement of the Ethiopian government’s alleged restriction of press and political freedoms.
The US State Department, in its annual Human Rights Report issued on June 25, grouped Ethiopia together with a small list of countries including China and Eritrea, accused of contravening human rights. Rights groups say that despite such reports, the US priorities its security cooperation with Ethiopia while turning a blind eye to rights abuse.
Former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George Bush have all visited Ethiopia, but only after leaving office. The 44th US President…
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