Ethiopian PM: “U.S. or Mars ambassador… won’t have any impact on elections!”

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Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, has strongly defended his government’s decision not to send an ambassador to the United States until after the east African country’s general elections in May, 2010. This comes after the US administration revealed its intention to appoint an ambassador to Ethiopia ahead of the upcoming Ethiopian polls. Critics say Mr. Zenawi’s decision questions the openness the pending elections.

Following a collective call for an official United States ambassadorial representation by rival Ethiopian political parties before the 2010 elections, Washington has announced the nomination of an Ambassador whose arrival, according to US embassy sources, is scheduled to take place ahead of the upcoming Ethiopian polls.

Meles Zenawi, while expressing his government readiness to welcome the nominated ambassador, announced that Ethiopia’s Ambassadorship post in Washington, which has reportedly remained vacant since Ambassador Samuel Assefa was recalled to Addis Ababa last August, is unlikely to be filled shortly.

In a press conference given on December 11, 2009, the Ethiopian PM said that the ambassadorial appointment would be made next September, after a new government has been elected in May. According to him, the new Ethiopian ambassador will be a political appointee and not a career diplomat as it was in the case of Dr. Samuel Assefa.

Arguing against the opposition’s declaration that a new US ambassador would mean mounted pressure which could hold the ruling government accountable and insure free and fair elections, Meles Zenawi said his government will not entertain any pressure from any entity.

“In order for the government to stage a democratic election, it doesn’t need any foreign pressure. The constitutional pressure itself, and also the ruling party’s own belief, is more than enough. Thus, the government by its own belief and […] the constitution […] will hold a democratic election,” Meles said.

“The ruling party won’t implement anything that it doesn’t believe in because of pressure from anybody. Whether it is a US ambassador or Mars ambassador, if it existed, won’t have any pressure and impact on the elections,” Meles also said.

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