France/Ethiopia: Sarkozy Should Highlight Rights Issues on Ethiopia Visit

JANUARY 28, 2011

(Paris) – The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is scheduled to arrive in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2011, for an official visit to Ethiopia. Human rights concerns, including the misuse of development aid to repress dissent, should be high on Sarkozy’s agenda, Human Rights Watch said.

The ruling party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian Revolutionary People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF), won 99.6 percent of parliamentary seats in the May 2010 general election. Space for independent civil society and media has diminished sharply over the past five years, but particularly since 2009 when Ethiopia passed a restrictive law regulating civil society activity. Most independent human rights groups and media outlets have been forced to close, and the ruling party operates a system of cell structures in the country that monitor the political activity of every household



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