It seems that American eyes will be watching Hailemariam Desalegn and the Ethiopian government closely as they seek a solution to the violence.
By Conor Gaffey (Newsweek) |
Ethiopia is a major U.S. ally in Africa. The government in Addis Ababa has long cooperated with Washington on security and counterterrorism while benefiting generously from U.S. aid. In 2016, the U.S. pledged $809 million to Ethiopia, behind only war-torn South Sudan and Kenya, another Western ally, in sub-Saharan Africa.
But the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa struck an urgent and concerned tone on Tuesday when it issued a statement saying it was “disturbed by the troubling reports” on “ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people” along the border between the country’s two largest regions, Oromia and Somali.
“We urge the Ethiopian government to conduct a transparent investigation into all allegations of violence and to hold those responsible accountable,” said the embassy’s statement.
“At the same time, on the local level, communities must be encouraged and given space to seek peaceful resolutions to the underlying conflicts.”
Ethiopia has a federal government with oversight over regional authorities, and regions are largely demarcated along ethnic and linguistic lines. Oromos, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, tend to be farmers, while Somalis are often pastoralists, and the border has been a flashpoint for conflicts over grazing land and natural resources in the past, according to the BBC.
The latest outbreak of violence has killed at least 50 people and displaced more than 50,000, according to Reuters. But the cause is not yet clear, since both sides are blaming each other.