As U.S. President Barack Obama finished meetings with leaders from the
Group of Eight leading industrialized nations and African heads of state
at the Camp David retreat in Maryland, demonstrations erupted in nearby
towns. The protesters involved regulars of the Occupy movement as well
as anti-government Ethiopian activists.
Several hundred Ethiopian activists came from across the United States
to protest meetings involving Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who
has been in power since 1991. The United States is a major aid
contributor to Ethiopia, whose leader has been accused of restricting
freedoms, including those of the media.
Discussions with African leaders have focused on boosting outside
agricultural investment, but one protester, Mohamed Abdo, warned against
pouring any outside money into Ethiopia.
"They use this money to buy and to supress the people, not for the
benefit of the people, so first of all we need to have a free election,"
he said. "It should be supported by the people so that whatever kind of
policy, it should be the people's policy, it should not be a one person
policy, that is our message."
Another protester, Tsegaye, said Americans should be concerned their
tax dollars are being misspent on projects involving undemocratic
countries, regardless of whether they are considered security allies.
"If you don't have a transparent government, if you dont have rule of
law, you do not know how those contracts are executed. Are they in the
best interest of the Ethiopian people? In the long run, we do not know,"
protest, called the Counter Group of Eight Community Block Party, was
held in nearby Frederick, Maryland.
Replicas of drones were on display to criticize current U.S. military
Brian Henry, a regular of so-called Occupy protests in the United States
against wealth disparity, said he had little respect for the talks at
"I do not know if I care to speculate," noted Henry, "but my opinion is
that they talk about how to make the rich of their countries richer."
Police were on the lookout at both events, to make sure there was no
violence or public disturbance. Several protesters said they had tried
to enter Camp David, but were turned away.