Ethiopian Americans Made the Difference For Republicans In Virginia

Ethiopian-Americans in Virginia have helped deliver an unexpected win for the Republican Party in Virginia
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Photo: Twitter

Ethiopian-Americans in Virginia have helped deliver an unexpected win for the Republican Party in Virginia’s gubernatorial election.

Close to 100,000 Ethiopian-Americans live in Virginia, and many have for weeks been highlighting their anger with the Biden White House over its policy on the tragic and continuing conflict in Ethiopia.

Despite attempts by the American-Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC), Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe refused to put his support behind challenging President Biden’s approach, particularly on sanctions.

In contrast, Republican candidate and now Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin promised to expand the state’s trading relations with Ethiopia, if he was to take office.

AEPAC, which has been running an on the ground operation for the past 6 weeks, confirmed a large protest vote did take place, with thousands of Ethiopians switching from Democrat to Republican for the very first time.

In September, President Biden threatened the Ethiopian Government with wide-ranging sanctions if it didn’t engage in political discussions with the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF). The move angered the majority of the American-Ethiopian diaspora, who view the TPLF as a terrorist organisation threatening the country’s hard fought journey to democracy and economic liberalisation.

A recent poll conducted by People to People of 2,500 members of the Ethiopian-American community found while 79% considered themselves Democrats, 61% intended to change their vote to the Republican Party due to White House’s policy on Ethiopia.

Chairman of AEPAC Mesfin Tegenu said: “Ethiopian-Americans have a proud history of supporting the Democratic Party. There is no doubt that community support helped President Biden secure victory in key swing states such as Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania in 2020. “However, Ethiopian-Americans feel desperately let down by the President and Democratic Members of Congress. They have shown sympathy towards an insurgency determined to undermine Ethiopia’s democratic and economic progress and have failed to constructively engage the Ethiopian Government. Instead, this Administration has opted for a misguided and contradictory approach with aggressive rhetoric and sanctions that will hurt ordinary Ethiopians.

“The community in Virginia have clearly had enough and this frustration has helped deliver a real upset. We at AEPAC look forward to working constructively with Glenn Youngkin during his term in office to strengthen relations between Ethiopia and the U.S.” 

Link to the People to People poll

From American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC)

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