Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
(Africa News) -Canada’s Foreign Policy outfit has disclosed that a top official who recently held talks with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, discussed bilateral issues including democratic reforms.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Omar Alghabra, met with Desalegn in Addis Ababa on Tuesday. He becomes the second top official to call for action on political reforms in Ethiopia.
In November 2016, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stephane Dion, held meetings with PM Desalegn during his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa. Minister Dion called for timely and meaningful reforms especially to benefit the youth and eventually to support the country’s growth and prosperity.
‘‘The Minister also participated in an in-depth exchange with civil society representatives, highlighting the need for democratic space, pluralism and respect for fundamental freedoms for any political dialogue to be successful,’‘ a statement from Dion’s office read.
The political situation in Ethiopia
The political situation in Ethiopia has been the subject of international concern. Addis Ababa is accused of repressing opposition groups with sweeping arrests under a state-of-emergency imposed since October last year and recently renewed.
The need for the curfew was to help quell spreading anti-government protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. A recent report on the protests said over 660 people were killed including security officers deployed to maintain “peace” during the protests.
The government has been challenging human rights group that claim the casualty figures in the protest deaths were higher than official records. Ethiopia has also flatly rejected calls for independent probes into the deaths.
Other issues discussed
The state-affiliated ENA reported that the Canadian ambassador to Ethiopia, Philip Baker, said both countries were committed to strengthening trade relations and other broad and deep cooperation on development programs. He also expressed hope that the two countries will collaborate in Ethiopia’s thriving mining sector.
“We have strong development programs but we really hope to grow our trade relationship between the two countries and the aviation sector”, the ambassador is quoted to have said.
The Horn of Africa country is Canada’s largest global development program that on average allocates over 100 million US dollars annually.