President Barack Obama who is currently in Ethiopia Monday asked government to end crackdown on press freedom.
It is said Ethiopia released some bloggers and journalists who have been detained in various prisons as soon as Obama landed in the country.
During a news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, Obama said “when all voices are being heard, when people know they are being included in the political process, that makes a country more successful.”
Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ethiopia and Kenya where he spent the weekend.
He cited the May elections in which the ruling party won every seat in parliament, saying there was need for frankness.
Desalegn in defense said the government was committed to a democratic process but were arresting journalists because they don’t observe ethics.
According to Sarah Margon, the Washington director of the organization Human Rights Watch, Obama’s visit to Ethiopia is a reward.
“Ethiopia at this time doesn’t deserve that,” she said, citing that the country is known for gross human rights violations.
South Sudan talks
Obama is also expected to convene a meeting with African leaders on the crisis in South Sudan.
“The conditions on the ground are getting much, much worse,” Obama is quoted as saying.
He said if a peace agreement isn’t reached by an Aug. 17 deadline, the U.S. and its partners would have to “consider what other tools we have”.
South Sudan was thrown into conflict in December 2013 by a clash between forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, and President Salva Kiir, a Dinka.
AU and Al Shabaab
Obama hailed Ethiopia for helping fight terrorism in the region, particularly the Somalia-based Al Shabaab network.
Ethiopia shares intelligence with the U.S. and sent troops into Somalia to address instability there.
The terrorists on Sunday claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb at a luxury hotel in Somalia’s capital that killed nine people and injured nearly two dozen more.
The Jazeera Hotel was considered the most secure in Mogadishu and is frequented by diplomats, foreigners and visiting heads of state.
Obama said the attack was a reminder that “we have more work to do” in stemming terrorism in the region.