Statement by Mr. Conor Lenihan T.D. on recent developments in Ethiopia
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of lethal force by the Ethiopian security forces. All of the acts of violence which occurred in Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia last week, irrespective of their perpetrators, must be independently investigated as soon as possible, as was promised recently by the Ethiopian Prime Minister
It is important that we see an end to the mass arrests, random searches and indiscriminate searches by the security forces.
Equally it is important that those who have been detained are treated correctly and that access is granted to their families, legal counsel and the International Red Cross and/or other appropriate representatives of the international community.
At the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and myself, Ireland's Chargé d'Affaires in Addis Ababa is currently looking into the conditions under which those who have been arrested are being held. We will receive further updates from him over coming days.
There is also an onus on the opposition parties to respect the rule of law. We urgently call upon all political parties and the Ethiopian people to desist from further violence. They should pursue their political aims by exclusively peaceful democratic means.
I have asked that the Chargé d'Affaires at the Ethiopian Embassy in Dublin, who was already called in to the Department of Foreign Affairs last week, be called in again to meet me this week to give an update on his Government's view of these disturbing events.
Ireland has a strong commitment to the poorest and most vulnerable people in Ethiopia and the Government is working to help them through an aid programme totalling €30 million this year.
This assistance is making a real difference to the lives of poor people in Ethiopia, including in the areas of basic health and education.
Our aid programme is kept under constant review and the recent events give rise to real concern about the nature and level of our engagement.
My concern is to see an end to the violence and the resumption of dialogue between the Ethiopian Government and the opposition parties. This is the only way to ensure an early return to the stability necessary for that Government and for donors to work together to improve the welfare of the Ethiopian people.
In making any assessment and future decisions about Ireland's co-operation with Ethiopia, we will be guided by reports from the ground and by contacts with Ireland's EU partners.”
8th November 2005