A year ago today, Ethiopia held legislative elections, and the results sent the country into a political uproar. The first anniversary is marked by opposition groups observing this day with mixed feelings about the state of democracy in Ethiopia. Mesfin Tefera is a member of the opposition party, the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces. From Washington he told English to Africa reporter James Butty about the opposition’s view of the anniversary.
“To begin with, we Ethiopians in the Diaspora and back home and all democracy loving people reminisce about May 15th in sadness and in joy. In joy because it is a day for the first time in our political history that our people came out in millions, 26 million strong, to choose their leaders. Sad because the incumbent government that…lost the elections insisted in continuing to assume itself as a winner forcefully to stay in power and thereby incarcerated thousands of elected opposition officials, journalist association members.”
Mesfin says Prime Minister Meles Zenawi should release all those in prison.
“To start with, if the Meles government really wants peace and democracy as it professes, and really concerned about the future of millions of Ethiopian peoples, it should unconditionally release all the political prisoners that [are] languishing in jail. That will be a good start and shows a goodwill on the part of the government.”