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Mr. Chairman, members of the House Foreign Affairs Sub-committee on Africa: Three years ago, the long struggle of the Ethiopian people to overthrow the brutal Marxist dictatorship of Col. Mengistu Hailemariam was successfully concluded. After Mengistu's flight from Addis Ababa, the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), with Meles Zenawi as president, took power. The United States Government helped to ensure that the change of governments would occur with as little violence as possible. We also made clear--as stated by my predecessor, Mr. Herman Cohen--that we were prepared to work cooperatively with the TGE provided that we saw continued progress in critical areas, especially democratization and human rights. In addition, we have emphasized economic development and reform. These policies remain the basis of U.S. activities in Ethiopia.
We did not then, and do not now, expect miracles or sudden transformations in these areas. Ethiopia is, after all, one of the oldest independent states in the world. For centuries it was governed by a monarchy often founded on the dominance of a particular ethnic group. The Ethiopian people, most of whom were and are small farmers or pastoralists, had little say in their government; and the greatest hope many of them had was to be left alone. The monarchy's fall in 1974 began a 17-year period of escalating centralized control and terror unprecedented in Ethiopia's history. This campaign corrupted or destroyed most of the institutions of civil society and brought Ethiopia's fragile economy close to ruin. In addition, as the Mengistu regime crumbled, Eritrea won its 30-year struggle for independence, leaving Ethiopia landlocked. These were the conditions that the TGE faced when it came into office.
The TGE's tenure has presented some serious problems, about which we have made our views clear both publicly and …