Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

17 February 2013

Ethiopia: Polite but Forthright!

Nick Clegg's, United Kingdom deputy prime minister, visit here late last week was marked as the first bilateral high level visit to Addis Abeba by a western politician since mid 2011.

Although he came to promote the agendas of the G8 Summit, which his country currently chairs, he also met Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Friday, February 15, 2013, in his office to deliver "polite but forthright" messages from a country that puts 1.3 billion pound sterling a year into Ethiopia.

The British public expects no less than "pretty frank and direct" talks with Ethiopian authorities on issues of concern, Clegg told Fortune. Pleased with accomplishments of Ethiopian authorities in the social sector, Clegg told Hailemariam to "properly address and resolve" what he described as the "not proportional" application of the antiterrorism law, with particular concerns on the trail of Eskinder Nega, a dissident blogger, and Andualem Arage, an opposition activist.

The same day Clegg spoke to Hailemariam, Eskinder and Andualem appeared before the Supreme Court, on George VI Street, where Justices adjourned the case without reading their final verdict, due to the absence of one of the three Justices. Clegg is pleased with the progress he saw while discussing another issue of concern, the "intended or unintended impact of the charities and civil societies law," he told a group of journalists who met him Friday night, inside the UK Embassy.

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