27/08/07 (B410) ALL AFRICA / L’Ambassadeur d’Ethiopie aux USA déplore et critique le projet de Loi du député du New Jersey qui viserait à restreindre les aides et financements que les Etats-Unis accordernt à certains pays. La proposition est soutenue par une partie de la communauté éthiopienne des USA qui dénoncent le manque de démocratie et la répression des membres de l’opposition. L’Ambassadeur fait valoir de son côté à la fois la libération de nombreux prisonniers politiques d’opposition et le fait que le pays, allié incontesté des USA, conduit une guerre contre le terrorisme, conforme à la stratégie américaine. – Ethiopia: Ambassador Deplores U.S. Congress Bill (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Ethiopian Ambassador to U.S., Dr. Samuel Assefa, expressed his concern to legislation pending in Congress that would restrict military assistance to the country and government officials travel to the United States.

He said that it was unfair to lump Ethiopia with countries like North Korea and Iran at a time when its troops are acting as allies in the war on terrorism, defending an interim government in neighboring Somalia against Islamist extremists.

« This would be the fatal blow to cooperating security arrangements between the United States and Ethiopia, » said Dr. Samuel. « Ethiopia is a vital ally to the U.S. in this region in the fight against terrorism. The bill could cut off economic and bilateral aid at a most inopportune time. »

The legislation known as H.R. 2003 was proposed by Rep. Donald M. Payne, New Jersey Democrat, and is backed by members of the Ethiopian community in Washington, most of whom support the main opposition party in Ethiopia and remain angry over the outcome of a May 2005 parliamentary election.

Dr. Samuel argued in an interview at The Washington Times that his government was addressing the problem. Last weekend, the government reported that 32 members and supporters of the opposition coalition were released.

Another 38 prisoners had been freed three weeks earlier, and Dr. Samuel said only one political prisoner who signed a plea requesting a pardon remains jailed because his court case is still pending.

Under the country’s legal system, Dr. Samuel said, « a plea for a pardon can only be considered after a conviction and sentencing is passed. »

However leaders of a local support group, Coalition for H.R. 2003, contends the Ethiopian government is using the political prisoners as « pawns in its shell game with the U.S. Congress. »

While the Ethiopian government questions the timing of the bill, Noelle LuSane, staff director for the subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, emphasized there was a two-year gap between the time the 193 protesters were killed and the bill’s introduction in April.

« The government had plenty of time to resolve the issue, » Ms. LuSane said. « So, Congressman Payne does not feel the government should have been given more time, as they had two years to fix the problem.