Congressman Donald Payne’s bill, H.R. 2003,(Ethiopian Democracy and Accountability Act, 2007) was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill, which is awaiting a vote in the Senate, requires the United States government to withhold assistance to the present Ethiopian government until it begins to cease its persecution policies in the Ogaden region and restores basic rights such as freedom of the press. It specifically aims at restoration of democratic procedures such as an independent judiciary, freedom of the press and free elections. Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United States, Samuel Assefa attacked Payne for interfering in the affairs of an independent African nation and said this would only lead to instability in the region. U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendyl Frazer said the Bush administration was trying to foster democracy in Ethiopia and things were “moving ahead.” Ethiopian opposition leader, Dr. Berhanu Nega, told Congressional committees of the continued violence and brutality of his nation’s government and, particularly its policies of starving people in the Ogaden region who are Muslims.
The Ethiopian government provides the Bush administration with an arm of oppression in east Africa that takes away focus on the United States. Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia, with covert US support, in order to overthrow the Muslim fundamentalist government. Ethiopia is predominantly Christian and the presence of its soldiers in Somalia is generally not welcomed by the population. Within Ethiopia, opposing voices are silenced as the brutal regime imposes its will upon the population. Bush continually spouts his support for democracy while supporting one dictatorial regime after another. Is it any wonder nations don’t trust the man?