May 26, 2013 (TESFA NEWS) – U.S. SecretaryJohn Kerry has been forced to leave Ethiopia without addressing the African Union summit after an electricity blackout hit the $200m Chinese-built African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.
In his planned three-day visit to the country, Kerry was expected to discuss a range of security and bilateral issues with many African leaders and foreign dignitaries that will be gathering to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the African Union.
Before his departure to the summit, the Secretary was urged by rights and democracy groups around the world to address the increasingly deteriorating democracy and human rights situation in Ethiopia. However, just like what happened to his predecessor Hillary Clinton, the electric power has just gone off before his planned speech that later forced him to cut short his trip and leave the country. Daniel Finnan, a journalist from Radio France Internationale, reports that the blackout leaves presidents of France and Brazil with no audience for their speeches, except journalists, as the rest of the delegates decided to leave the dark hall in a rush.
The blackout drama left an embarrassing mess to the $1.27m fanfare by the organization. Seems the Chinese was expected to get the generators too.
Back in 2011, the same electric blackout happened while Secretary Hilary Clinton was addressing inside the old African Union building. As soon as she began the topic on democracy in the country and noticeably left out to mention Ethiopia while she named ten countries which had made democratic progress in Africa, the lights goes off for several minutes.
Suspicious of the regimes veiled attempt to undermine her strong speech in support of democratic rights in the country, Clinton decided to cut back her planned three-day trip in to one and left the country.
Coincidence or purposeful sabotage?
For political savvy Ethiopians in the country, such scenarios are no accident.
Many Ethiopians remember a similar incident on May 7, 2005 when two million Ethiopians came out to the streets in support of the popular Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party, which was seen as a vitally needed alternative to the oppressive regime.
Just as the leaders of the opposition party were about to speak, there was an electrical outage, cutting the sound system and making it impossible to address this vast crowd of peaceful, pro-democracy supporters.
An Embarrassing moment for the Ethiopian regime – Power outage during Clinton’s AU speech in June 2011