From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Nov 02 2008 - 14:08:10 EST
Ethiopia arrests opposition leader
>From correspondents in Addis Ababa
November 04, 2008 05:05am
ETHIOPIA said today an opposition leader had been arrested for working
with insurgent groups opposed to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's
The Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) confirmed its general
secretary Bekele Jirata was picked up on Friday as he was going to his
Addis Ababa office in what it called an abuse of rights.
"He was working hand-in-glove with terrorists," Bereket Simon, special
advisor to Mr Meles, said.
"It is proven he had links with groups like the OLF."
One of various rebel movements in the huge Horn of Africa nation, the
Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has been fighting for independence for the
southern Oromo region since 1993.
The Ethiopian government routinely accuses arch-foe Eritrea of backing
the rebel group with training and financial support.
Opposition groups say they are constantly harassed by the government
despite operating within the law.
"At this time, we are unable to have any meaningful dialogue with the
authorities who ordered the detention," OFDM chairman Bulcha Demeksa
said in an email.
"The constitution and other human rights laws would have been our
guarantor, but...this is not the case in Ethiopia."
The OFDM in April accused the government of intimidation as voters went
to the polls for the first time since post-election violence in 2005
killed 199 civilians.
The party said most of their candidates in the April local elections had
been threatened and forced to pull out of the race. They ran less than
two percent of their originally proposed candidates.
In a separate incident, Amare Aregawi, editor of Ethiopia's well-known
Reporter newspaper, was attacked by two men as he left a parent-teacher
meeting at his son's school in Addis Ababa on Saturday, colleagues said.
"They jumped him from behind and hit him with rocks," said a senior
editor at the Reporter, who asked not to be named.
"They tried to kill him. We knew there had been death threats but we
never thought it would come to this."
Mr Amare was arrested in August after a large brewery brought a libel
complaint against the newspaper but was released five days later on
payment of bail.
The Reporter is one of Ethiopia's largest circulation publications and
its editorials are often critical of Ethiopian government policy.
Mr Amare was in hospital being treated for serious head injuries after
he was knocked unconscious by his attackers.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders demanded an investigation,
saying a show of firmness would convince others tempted to use "violence
to settle scores with the press that such behaviour would not go
Local media said two men had been arrested for the attack, one assailant
and a taxi-driver used for a getaway. Police were not immediately
available to confirm that.
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