WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today made the following statement criticizing legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week titled “The Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007” (H.R. 2003):
“Though this legislation states that its purpose is to ‘encourage and facilitate the consolidation of peace and security’ in Ethiopia, in reality it focuses only on shortcomings while blatantly ignoring the unprecedented progress the country has made,” Senator Inhofe said. “Ethiopia takes great pride in being the oldest independent country in Africa. They continue to be a close friend of the United States and a strong ally in the War on Terror in the Horn of Africa.
“The language contained in H.R. 2003 enflames tensions already present in the Horn of Africa, threatening regional stability and long term U.S. national security. The growing instability in Somalia and the Ogaden region, combined with the unresolved border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the north, has created major challenges for Ethiopia. While I agree that the violence and intimidation that took place in the country after the 2005 election was an unnecessary use of excessive force, the Government of Ethiopia has taken significant steps to regain a democratic process that is fair and respectful of human rights.
“I care deeply about Africa and visit the continent frequently. It is an area of strategic importance globally and to our country. During my recent trip to Africa in April, I witnessed first-hand Ethiopia’s democratic progress and commitment in fighting terrorism.
“Although I appreciate the increased attention being given to Africa and particularly Ethiopia, I believe the bill takes the wrong approach by placing demands on a friend and ally that has made obvious advancements in democracy and human rights. Ethiopia continues to be the central bulwark in the fight to deter the growth and disrupt the influence of Islamic extremists in the region. Our country’s strong support of Ethiopia during this significant time is imperative - it builds stability and encourages democracy and human rights.”