As a democracy, Ethiopia is far removed from the ideal that President Obama spelled out for Africa in his first trip as president to the continent in 2009.
Visiting Ghana then, Obama famously said Africa needed strong institutions, not strongmen.
Human rights groups had expressed concern about Obama’s decision to become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ethiopia, a nation that has few real democratic institutions, routinely harasses and jails journalists and bloggers, and is accused of torture. But they were shocked when, on Monday, the president twice described the country’s May elections as “democratic.”
Ethiopia’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allied parties recorded an almost 100% victory in those elections, winning every seat in the parliament — the kind of implausible victory margin common in dictatorships.