[dehai-news] (AFP) Opposition slams Ethiopian govt

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Fri Feb 27 2009 - 06:17:01 EST

Opposition slams Ethiopian govt

27/02/2009 11:17 - (SA)
Addis Ababa - An Ethiopian opposition party on Thursday accused the
government of arbitrarily arresting its members and closing down its
branches ahead of the 2010 general elections.
The Unity for Democracy and Justice party (UDJ), one of Ethiopia's
largest opposition groups, said in a statement that its members had been
the victims of systematic intimidation by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's
"Regional governments have ordered the closure of our regional branches,
threatened and incarcerated our members, while our properties have been
vandalised under the sole pretext that UDJ lacks legitimacy," the party
In December, UDJ leader Birtukan Midekssa was also detained after having
her pardon from a life sentence for treason revoked on charges that she
denied expressing remorse.
The 35-year-old's arrest sparked a fresh outcry from international
rights groups, with New York-based Human Rights Watch warning of "a
growing trend of political repression" in Ethiopia.
Weaken opposition parties
Ethiopian authorities have insisted that revoking Birtukan's pardon for
a life sentence was not a political decision.
Another opposition leader, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist
Democratic Movement (OFDM) Bekele Jirata, was only released from prison
last month after serving several months for plotting terrorist attacks.
"As the next general elections approach, we believe that the ruling
party as usual is doing its best to weaken opposition parties in order
to stay in power," the UDJ said.
The party made its most spectacular electoral gains ever in the 2005
polls but cried foul over reported fraud, claiming it was robbed of
victory by Zenawi's ruling party.
The ensuing unrest left close to 200 people dead and drew wide
international condemnation.

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