News / Africa

Candidate Slaying in Northern Ethiopia Stirs Calls for an Inquiry

Candidate Slaying in Northern Ethiopia Stirs Calls for an Inquiry
Candidate Slaying in Northern Ethiopia Stirs Calls for an Inquiry

The stabbing death of an opposition candidate in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is raising new calls for an inquiry and an easing of 2009 repressive legislation that critics say is restraining political activity in the weeks leading up to  this year's 23 May general elections.

Opposition figures contend that last week’s slaying of candidate Aregawi Gebreyohannes by five men at his home in Shire has aroused fears of a recurrence of 2005 post-election violence. As many as 200 protesters were killed five years ago by security forces, and thousands of others were arrested for challenging the results of a disputed nationwide vote. 

Ethiopian voters check 2005 provisional results at a polling station in Addis Ababa 16 May 2005
Ethiopian voters check 2005 provisional results at a polling station in Addis Ababa 16 May 2005

Senior East Africa Researcher Leslie Lefkow of human rights watch says that Aregawi Gebreyohannes’ slaying last Monday night was most likely politically motivated.

“He was apparently arrested not long ago for distributing leaflets about his opposition party and had suffered other forms of intimidation.  It seems to be largely because he was very active and was very vocal in his support of the opposition.  He was going to stand for parliament from his constituency of Shire, where he was living,” said Lefkow.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi attenede a three day African Union summit at the UN headquarters in Addis Ababa on 2 Feb 2010. AFP PHOTO/ SIMON MAINA
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi attenede a three day African Union summit at the UN headquarters in Addis Ababa on 2 Feb 2010. AFP PHOTO/ SIMON MAINA

Although the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi prefers not to see a repeat of the vocal protests that followed the 2005 vote, Human Rights Watch and other concerned NGO’s say officials are determined to avoid raising domestic and international questions about whether the vote is going to be free and fair.

“Beyond the violence the government is concerned that there is no  negative attention to these elections, that there are no questions about whether the elections are free and fair.  And that is a concern because Human Rights Watch has documented a degree of repression on independent voices that may contribute to making the elections less than a level playing field,” notes Lefkow.

Candidate Slaying in Northern Ethiopia Stirs Calls for an Inquiry
Candidate Slaying in Northern Ethiopia Stirs Calls for an Inquiry
 

She says human rights groups are disappointed about legislation introduced last year in parliament that they say is designed to stifle independent activity by civil society groups in Ethiopia, clamp down on election media coverage, and limit acts of political protest, all under the pretext of government concerns about fighting terrorism.

“One of the laws, the charities and societies proclamation, regulates nongovernmental organizations, and it has had a deeply worrying effect in the last six months, even.  A lot of organizations have been forced to change their mandates to remove any kind of activity on human rights or governance from their mandates.  There have also been insidious threats against leading activists, which have forced a number of them to flee the country. So overall, the environment is a bit grim for independent voices in the media and for NGO’s,” she said.

Although prospects are dim that opposition campaigning will achieve its desired impact in just over two months’ time, East Africa researcher Lefkow says there are certain positive measures the Meles government can take to lessen the breach between government defenders and detractors. 

One step would be to release political prisoners, including prominent opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa, whose pardon for alleged acts of treason was revoked as she was rearrested and given a life prison term for failing to deliver a public apology for acts committed during the post-2005 campaign. 

Another helpful step would be for the government to issue public statements that it supports transparent investigations into allegations against the government. Lefkow says that though there are no signs that a conditions for 23 May voters in Ethiopia will be liberalized, the election will go on, despite the chilling signals being sent by last week’s political assassination and the tightening of campaign restrictions. 

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid