During his first trip to Ethiopia, President Obama inspected an honor guard and stood with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn Monday morning, but the ceremony could not obscure a decade of harsh single-party rule, harassment of journalists and the jailing of dissidents, reports CBS News correspondent Major Garrett.
Ethiopia is central to regional efforts to battle terrorism in the Horn of Africa. It also has a long list of human rights violations that dissidents in the country fear might be ignored amid handshakes and pomp.
The two leaders sat together, allies in a regional counter-terrorism battle against al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing Sunday in the capital city of neighboring Somalia. Ethiopian troops have been battling al-Shabab in Somalia off and on since 2006.
At a press conference, the president addressed strains in U.S. relations with Ethiopia.
"I believe that when all voices are being heard, when people know they're included in the political process, that makes a country stronger and more successful and more innovative," Obama said.
The visit comes on the heels of Mr. Obama's trip to Kenya, where he clashed openly with president Uhuru Kenyatta over Kenya's opposition to gay rights.
"The idea they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong," Mr. Obama said.
"The issue of gay rights in Kenya is really not an issue," Kenyatta said.
Mr. Obama said Kenya and other African nations still cling to traditions that marginalize women and discourage them from working.
"That's stupid. That makes no sense." Mr. Obama said.
There were lighter moments, such as the two presidents line dancing at the state dinner.