January 26, 2007
"Well that was a dynamic question"
There is something special about press conferences hosted by Americans in Addis. The journalists here tend to abandon their usual cool impartiality and got a little - how shall I say this - 'pointed' in their interrogation.
Yesterday, Ethiopia's press corps got its first chance to meet Dr Cindy L. Courville, the USA's Ambassador to the African Union. Every aspect of US involvement in Africa and beyond was raised. 'Wasn't the US support of Ethiopian troops in Somalia really nothing about supporting a government but all about the US taking over the region?'; 'Wasn't the war on terror rotten to the core?' (or something like that). I even heard one question starting "Madam ambassador, every day more widows are crying, more children are dying..."
At the getting-to-know-you tea and biscuits session after the conference, she was surrounded by a semi-circle of veteran hacks. Voices were raised. At least one finger was pointed.
The ambassador coped with it very well - "Well that was a dynamic question" was her response to one quite mild query early on. In case you were wondering, her answers were calm, diplomatic and straight down the party line.
After the journalists had got everything they wanted to off their chests, the calmed down too and realised they didn't have much to write about from the meeting. You will search in vain for a mention of it on Yahoo! news - just one photo.
Posted by aheavens at January 26, 2007 12:38 PM