Ethiopia: Govt Arrests Opposition Leadership

In a recent crackdown, police arrested four opposition political party members and leaders, and members of the parties they belong to ...

In a recent crackdown, police arrested four opposition political party members and leaders, and members of the parties they belong to have expressed concern about the situation and demand the immediate release of the detainees. Getachew Redda, advisor to the Prime Minister told The Reporter that the individuals were arrested due to their connections with terrorist organizations and said it was unrelated to the upcoming national election, which will be conducted next year.

"Their involvement in the terrorist organization is the major reason for their arrest," he stated.

Four of the detained opposition political party members and leaders are head of public relations affairs of Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ), and vice chairman of organizational affairs of the party Habtamu Ayalew and Daniel Shibeshi respectively, Blue Party's National Council Deputy Chairperson, Yeshiwas Assefa, and Arena Tigray Party's Executive Committee member Abraha Desta.

Kidane Yirgu, head of Arena Addis Ababa branch said to The Reporter "Abraha has not appeared before a court of law and the party understood that he came to Addis Ababa on Thursday afternoon around 5:30."
"Though the party is ready to get him a lawyer it is difficult to communicate with him and the party has not received any official information about his whereabouts, however, some other people have informed the members of the party that Abraha is in Addis Ababa," Kidane added Regarding the charges the government stated, Kidane told The Reporter that "Abraha is a peaceful person and believes in a non-violent and peaceful struggle, therefore the charge that the government stated has got nothing to do with him."

Arena also thinks the regime change should come peacefully and does not support any armed struggle to change the system, however we can't say a certain group is a terrorist or not but we don't believe in an armed struggle, he further added. On the other hand, the Blue Party condemned the current crackdown of then political figures and the situation of the country and said, "we cannot tolerate TPLF/EPRDF's [Tigrayan People's Liberation Front/Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front] state of terror." Yilikal Getnet (Eng.) president of Blue Party also told The Reporter, "Members of the party and his family members are not allowed to visit him, and his constitutional right to appear before court within 48 hours has been deprived."
He said "their arrest boldly hints that the regime's final days in power are counted and change is inevitable in the near future and hence the party demands the immediate release of the detainees and as well advocates the regime to stop the state of terror."

Sileshi Feysa, deputy chairperson and head of election affairs of Blue Party on his part told The Reporter, "though we don't believe in the struggle approach of Ginbot 7, the party still doesn't accept the labeling made by the ruling party that they are a terrorist group."

He further added that the party is engaged in a peaceful and non-violent political struggle and thus did not support any movements that aren't peaceful. The Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) also expressed its concerns about the current crackdown and stated the situation as a measure taken by the ruling party to control the upcoming election and demands the immediate release of the detainees.

Engineer Gizachew Shiferaw, president of UDJ said that UDJ believes in a peaceful and non-violent struggle and that the party has no connections with organizations that engage themselves in an armed struggle.
In relation to whether UDJ regards Ginbot 7 as a terrorist organization or not, he told The Reporter, "we don't have a mandate to do so therefore I don't want to say anything about it."

Moreover, the All Ethiopian Union Party (AEUP) and UDJ merger joint committee also condemns the arrest and said arresting political leaders would not stop the process of merging by citing that Habtamu Ayalew was the head of the merging committee that comprised 10 members from both parties.

The Reporter
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