Letter from Senator McCain and Secretary Albright to Meles Zenawi

U.S. Senator John McCain and Hon. Madeleine Albright
Washington, DC
April 14, 2005

A joint press release from the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute

Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Your Excellency:
We write to express our concern and dismay over the recent expulsion from Ethiopia of representatives of the International Republican Institute (IRI), IFES, and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) by your government. With support from USAID, the three organizations sought to assist the democratic process and preparations for your May 15 general elections. These organizations carry out nonpartisan programs and support a democratic environment in which the integrity of the election process can be ensured and all parties understand their rights and responsibilities.

IRI, IFES, and NDI were coordinating with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia to support the work of the election commission, dialogue among political parties and election authorities as a means of enhancing confidence and participation in the electoral process, political party pollwatching, and the creation of a code of conduct for the elections. All three organizations have been making good faith efforts to gain registration in accordance with
established laws and procedures and were assured by representatives of your government that their registration would be approved expeditiously.

In over 20 years of working around the world, until now no government has expelled NDI, IRI, and IFES. We are particularly perplexed by these expulsions at a time when your government has stated its intention to organize an open and democratic election process. This action will only raise questions about the credibility and transparency of these elections.

The United States and Ethiopia have a history of friendship and cooperation.

We continue to support the democratic aspirations of the Ethiopian people, and look forward to returning to Ethiopia to assist with future elections.

Until then, we urge the Government of Ethiopia to work towards creating an environment conducive to increasingly free and fair elections.

U.S. Senator John McCain
Chairman of Board of Directors
International Republican Institute