Ethiopian American Forum

On the record statment of the respected senator Russ Feingold (March 3. 2008)

US Senator Russell Feingold

Washington, DC
506 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4904
(202) 224-5323
TDD (202) 224-1280
Fax (202) 224-2725


On the record Statement of the respected Senator Russ Feingold (March 3.2008)

Political Crisis in Ethiopia


March 4, 2008

Dear  Senator,


Thank you for taking your time and showing concern about Ethiopia.  The US- Ethiopia partnership is indeed important for both nations – perhaps considering Ethiopia being host  of the African Union and the second populous African nation and with stable, consistently fast growing economy highest of all non-oil producing African countries, it is real important to the US.  As you had spoke about, the horn neighborhood have all kinds of troubles that should include Eritrea, which I felt that you had conveniently forgot to mention.


When one really looks, the Bush Administration could have done better than what it had, for the sake of keeping the very few friends in the Sub-Saharan Africa that can be counted on.

Senator Feingold, Ethiopia came out of a very long 47 years of Monarchy to be followed by a dictatorial military regime that committed every kind of unthinkable human right abuses to stay in power for over 17 years.  When 17 ethnically based armed rebel groups from all the parts of the country finally defeated the undemocratic military government, a new chapter begun.  The new government didn’t kill the previous leaders of the country, as had been the common practice of rebels getting power, instead they restructured the judicial system and brought about 9000 ex-government criminals to court.  Only about 3000 were caught the rest including the Head, Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam who currently lives in Zimbabwe peacefully flea the country with so much wealth.  Close to 6000 of these criminal and their sympathizers live all over the world in freedom, and they are very active misleading even smart people like great American Senators and congress people.  They sometimes get referred as “reliable sources” of information by good leaders and personalities in the free world.

No one is claiming the current leaders in one of the poorest nation in the world never make mistakes, but they as well as anyone that works with them realize the ongoing corrections that the incumbent are making as they go.  Ethiopia proudly claims to have the best possible government in the region, if not out of the whole Africa.  In the last 15 years the country had its elementary school attendance rate improved from 19 % to 89%, Ethiopia have achieved great success in health, HIV and malaria reduction and control.  This poor nation only had one University with admission capacity of 3700 students a year, today we have 13 operational new State Universities in all the regional states with admission of about 44,000 and in the next 18 months when the other additional Universities get completed the admission will be 112,000 students a year.  Ethiopia only have 120 Mega Watt electric generation capacities, where in 2010 the country will have more than 4000 Mega Watt and has signed export agreements with all its neighbors except the rogue Eritrean government.

Senator, you had mentioned the 2003 incident in Gambela region, and the May 2005 election, which both incidents were ill presented by interest groups that made their sole goal to destabilize the nation anyway possible.     

The 2005 election was very widely contested and the coalition of opposition groups and individuals had won a remarkable number of seats and all in the capital city.  The opposition made a huge mistake of believing a sample poll result and boycotted joining the parliament.  Moreover, they instigated violence and sadly members of security forces as well as citizens were caused to die, all Ethiopian!  The authorities did take the measures that they were left with including arresting the leaders of the riots and disturbances that included the some of the opposition leaders, which were not willing to defend themselves in the courtroom and by defying the authority of the three judge panel.  

The US ambassador and the United States embassy acknowledged that the leaders of the opposition got their day in court and received judgments, and were pardoned because Ethiopian native elders and leaders of faith intervened and convinced the government leaders to accept their application of repentance. 

It is worth to mention that Ethiopia is pursuing democratic ways not because it is trying to stand approved by donors, but actually its government accepts its accountability to its own people. 

Ethiopia is in a continuous sticky relation to a semi-friendly strong neighboring nation like Egypt, which is the second largest US aid recipient, caused by Egypt’s paranoia of development on the Blue Nile River which feeds 85% of Egypt’s fresh water supply.  We also have another big brother in Libya, President Khadafy, who wants the African union to be seated in his country.  The small Eritrea, possibly aided by the above governments is always throwing rocks at the Ethiopian people and the system, but Ethiopia is focused only in fighting poverty and achieving great tangible results.

Senator, you also mentioned the Ogaden incident and failed to mention the massacred 69 Ethiopian civilians and 9 Chinese oil exploration workers, by the ONLF, that should have been labeled terrorist by now.  As I mentioned above, Eritrean regime is real close to join the United States black list of terrorist nation, where you had never mentioned at all.   Our prayer goes to the great Eritrean people. 

My concern in this comes out of repeat mistakes by authors of Bills against the Ethiopian government and people and I want to advice any true soul in similar act to think twice and study the long term effect as well as the background.  The Ethiopian people had survived every kinds of evil throughout history, the League of Nations ignored Ethiopia, and the Hague court misjudged border issue with Eritrea, the United nation failed to send support to the African Union peace force ready to help in Somalia that would had helped the Ethiopian military to withdraw and blame Ethiopia for not withdrawing, and a lot more.

As true as it is that Ethiopia can use all friendship from the US and others, it is also wise to think of the value of what Ethiopian friendship brings to them.

I have been fortunate to travel to Ethiopia in recent years and I am very happy with the overall trend of the society and the country as a whole. 

I would strongly suggest that Senators should take the morale high ground in decisions that affects the financially unfortunate part of the global village and should not stand on the way of people that are trying so hard to finally make their lives and their future better.  The United States of Amer ica is friend to Africa and its people, please be on the righteous side of the isle.

Thank you again,


Wondwossen Tadesse