Ethiopia Protests Us Ambassador's Speech After He Calls For Release Of Political Prisoners

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopia lodged a complaint Thursday over statements by the U.S. ambassador after he said the release of political prisoners could help the country engage in a productive dialogue and that detaining critics won't resolve the country's issues.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that Ambassador Ervin Massinga’s speech on policy and human rights contained “allegations” and “unsolicited advice," and that it would work with the Embassy to correct the “errors and inconsistencies” in his statement.

“The statement is ill advised and contains uniformed assertions. It is contrary to the historic and friendly relations between Ethiopia and the United States,” the ministry wrote.

Massinga had said in his speech that detaining critics would not resolve Ethiopia’s outstanding issues and that “the political dialogue the Ethiopians need could be helped by releasing key political figures.”

He urged the government and rebel groups to agree to dialogue and that “the country has far more to gain through peace than on the battlefield.”

Federal forces in Ethiopia are engaging in fighting with several rebel groups in its regions as well as ethnic-related insurgencies, which have led to deaths and the displacement of people. Human rights groups have accused federal soldiers of rights abuses in regions like Amhara, where rebel groups are based.

A prominent opposition figure was gunned down last month after his release from prison, and a state-appointed rights group has called for an investigation into his death.