Zenawi arrests 480 opponents – coalition

September 24, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — A Newly allied coalition of Ethiopian opposition groups on Wednesday accused the Ethiopian government of launching a new wave of arrests against opposition members, ahead of the approaching national election.

The alliance, Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (FDDE), said that government cadres have intensified a new wave of arrests against opposition members on trumped-up charges to cripple them from running in Next Year’s election.

“As of today our party has received a list of 250 opposition members jailed in Oromyia region and another 230 in the Amhara region” Gebru Asrat, FDDE chairman told Sudan tribune.

Prime Minister Meles’s former close ally, Gebru, said that the arrests were worsening after opposition groups and the ruling EPRDF party began talks on code of conduct.

Recently, FDDE walked-out of discussions on code of conduct set by the Ethiopian government, demanding other electoral rules to be included on the talks, so the election is held in fair and free way, as government pledged.

Issues of freedom to campaigning, intervention of security forces to stop, freedom of expression and movement were among others the opposition group demanded to be included for discussion alongside the talks on code of conduct.

According to the opposition official, Oromya and Amhara are the two regions arresting is being most intensified but he says he believes that same harassment is being underway in other regions too and the above figure of arrests could rise anytime soon.

“Opposition members, including potential candidates are being jailed on false allegation, accused of having links with anti-peace elements” Gebru said adding “meantime we are in the process of collecting names and figures of arrested members, we will soon announce when we have all the reports at hand.”

Another member of the coalition Bulcha Demeksa-a leader of a party that represent Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, Oromo, recently told reports that “they simply produce fake document linking you to the outlawed Oromo rebels and then after you are simply thrown to jail.”

Gebru Asrat believes that the waves of arrests are the sign of the ruling party’s “frustration” and sign of “no confidence.”

FDDE is a coalition of 6 opposition parties and two prominent independent politicians, the two former close allies of PM Meles, Negaso Gidada, former President and Siye Abraha, former Defense Minister.

(ST)

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