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Obama urges Ethiopia to boost democracy

24 August 2012, 11:30

Washington - US President Barack Obama urged Ethiopia's interim leader to boost Addis Ababa's support for democracy and human rights following the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi, the White House said.

In a call with Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is to assume interim power following Meles' death at age 57 this week, Obama again conveyed his condolences to the Ethiopian people, the White House said in a statement.

Obama noted that Meles - who died on Tuesday, after more than 20 years in power - had "made significant contributions to Ethiopia's development and to peace and security in the region", the statement said.

But he also encouraged Hailemariam to "use his leadership to enhance the Ethiopian government's support for development, democracy, human rights and regional security".

Under Meles, the Horn of Africa nation became a key US ally in the fight against Islamic extremism, notably offering Washington the use of an airfield from which to conduct drone operations in neighbouring Somalia.



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