The Oklahoma State Senate approved a resolution Thursday memorializing Congress and the President to promote the formation of democratic institutions, multiparty elections and respect for human rights in Ethiopia, and to play a mediatory role in peaceful resolution.
Senate Resolution 77 is authored by Sen. Constance N. Johnson, D-Oklahoma County. A copy of this resolution will be distributed to President George W. Bush and the members of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation.
Sen. Johnson said after three decades of devastation by famine, war and political instability, Ethiopia which is poised at a crucial juncture in its history, is making a dramatic effort to replace tyranny with democracy.
“The noble people of Ethiopia have developed and nourished a proud and distinguished culture that has endured for three millennia,” Sen. Johnson stated. “After many hardships, Ethiopians are aspiring to resolve their political problems through democratic dialogue and a free electoral process. They should be commended for their efforts.”
The resolution states the Ethiopian government should adhere to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights conventions and the principles set forth in its own constitution, including free speech, assembly, religion and press, and basic human rights guarantees and that the Ethiopian government should strive to avoid ethnocentric politics.
The U.S. House of Representatives previously passed H.R. 2003 the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 which states that it is U.S. policy to support human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, peacekeeping capacity building, and economic development in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; collaborate with Ethiopia in the global war on terror; seek the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia; foster stability, democracy, and economic development in the region; support humanitarian assistance efforts, especially in the Ogaden region; and strengthen U.S.-Ethiopian relations.
Tsige Belette is a member of the Ethiopian –Americans and Friends of Ethiopia in Oklahoma for H.R. 2003, a local group pushing for the passage of this federal legislation.
She praised Sen. Johnson for her strong support of this issue.
“Sen. Johnson is a great lady,” Belette said. “She is very sincere in her support for democracy and human rights. Her efforts are welcomed and greatly appreciated.”
Sen. Johnson said the United States and Ethiopia have maintained a long and productive relationship with the U.S. having provided substantial humanitarian and economic aid to the country situated in the Horn of Africa.
“Ethiopia is at a pivotal crossroads in deciding its future,” Sen. Johnson said. “The United States can and should play a key role in helping this beautiful country move into a new era of democracy and prosperity. The people of Ethiopia deserve it.”