Merkel visiting Ethiopia as state of emergency unfolds
German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled support for protesters demanding wider freedoms in Ethiopia during a visit to the country today, saying, “a vibrant civil society is part and parcel of a developing country.”
Merkel’s meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn had been expected to focus on the country’s newly declared state of emergency and other issues including migration.
Merkel also said Germany has offered to train policemen in Ethiopia to deal with the demonstrations that have caused this East African country, one of Africa’s best-performing economies, to declare its first state of emergency in a quarter-century.
“We are already working in Oromia to de-escalate the situation there by offering mediation between groups,” she said.
The Ethiopian prime minister responded to Merkel by suggesting his government may increase dialogue.
“We have shortcomings in our fledgling democracy, so we want to go further in opening up the political space and engagement with different groups of the society,” he said.
Merkel’s African tour, with stops earlier this week in Mali and Niger, is meant to highlight the global migration crisis and discuss security issues.
Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest hosts of refugees, with hundreds of thousands arriving from nearby Somalia, South Sudan and elsewhere.
German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer had said Merkel will also “of course clearly address human rights” in Ethiopia.