Freedom House, which has been rating Ethiopia as not a free nation in its previous reports, urged the new leadership of the country led by Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed to pursue greater political, economic and social reforms.
The United States based independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world made the call over the weekend, in response to the vote by Ethiopia’s parliament to lift the state of emergency that had been imposed in February.
“Lifting the state of emergency is a commendable measure and another indication that the new government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, intends to continue with its reform agenda,” said Jon Temin, director of Africa programs at Freedom House.
“The government should now expand and protect the right for political parties and individuals to speak and act freely, ahead of the local and national elections scheduled to take place in 2019 and 2020 respectively.”
Ethiopia is an authoritarian state ruled by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, according to the 2018 Freedom House country report.
In its press statement released on Friday, Freedom House recommends that the government’s next steps have to include:
- Releasing all remaining political prisoners, including those held under the state of emergency
- Inviting all political parties for dialogue with the government that promotes meaningful political participation and national consensus
- Revising the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Antiterrorism and the Mass Media Proclamations to remove the severe restrictions these laws place on freedoms of expression, association and assembly
- Pursuing reforms to guarantee the independence of key democratic institutions – including the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, the judiciary and the security services – from political interference.