Obama praise for Ethiopia's campaign against al-Shabaab

Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome (R) and US President Barack Obama shake hands during a meeting at the National Palace in Addis Ababa on July 27, 2015. Photo: AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB

ADDIS ABABA - US. President Barack Obama said on Monday he had discussed steps for Ethiopia to promote human rights and democracy, and also said Ethiopian troops had helped shrink the space available to militants in Somalia but more had to be done.

"My message to the people of Ethiopia is: as you take steps moving your country forward the United States will be standing by you the entire way," he told a joint news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Obama said the Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants offer nothing but "death and destruction".

"Part of the reasons we've seen this shrinkage of al-Shabaab in East Africa is that we've had our regional teams... with local forces. We don't need to send our own Marines in to do the fighting: the Ethiopians are tough fighters and the Kenyans and Ugandans have been serious about what they're doing," Obama said.

"We've got more work to do we have to now keep the pressure on," he said.

Meanwhile AFP reports that Desalegn attempted to counter criticism of his country's democratic deficit, saying he was committed to reform.

"Our commitment to democracy is real and not skin deep," said Hailemariam Desalegn, as Obama said it was an area "where we intend to deepen" discussions.


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