News / Africa

Disputed Political Killings Mar Ethiopian Election Campaign

A series of campaign-related killings in Ethiopia has raised tensions and sparked a battle of allegations before May 23 parliament elections.  

Opposition leaders and ruling party officials agree four people have been killed in three separate incidents in recent days in Oromia, home of Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, the Oromos.  But details of the deaths are shrouded in controversy.

Two people died in a grenade attack on a rally sponsored by the Oromo regional wing of Ethiopia's ruling party.  Another man was shot dead while putting up campaign posters, and a policeman was stabbed to death.  State-run media headlined the police killing and the arrest of three suspects.  

Government Communications Minister Bereket Simon says the killers are members of the Oromo People's Congress, which is part of Medrek, the main opposition alliance.

"They killed a policeman, they have been caught and admitted they had done it," said Bereket Simon. "They admitted they had been card carrying members of the OPC, they had been captured with their cards, the knives they used to slay the policeman."

Opposition parties condemned the killings and called for an impartial investigation.  Former Ethiopian President Negasso Gidada, now a Medrek leader, said he had no clear information about the incident, but said the timing, weeks before the election, is suspicious.

"We do not believe our members [would] do this, and therefore a neutral body should clear this matter and we are ready to cooperate with legal bodies to clarify the conditions in which this happened," said Negasso Gidada.

Negasso is also calling for an independent probe into the death of a man gunned down last week while putting up campaign posters in a small rural town.  Medrek officials have called it a deliberate political killing.

But Communications Minister Bereket calls the opposition account a fabrication.  He says the victim was not an opposition activist, but a local official of Ethiopia's ruling party, the EPRDF.

"[This is] the usual false issue, which is appearing to divert attention from the police killing," he said. "It is another lie."

But Medrek leader Negasso rejects the government explanation.  He tells VOA the victim was clearly working for the opposition.

"We know officials there say the thing happened as a personal vendetta or something," he said. "But we think it is politically motivated because he was pasting our poster when he was killed.  He was campaigning for us."

The discrepancy between the two accounts is reminiscent of the death of another political activist in Oromia last month.  Opposition leaders charged that a Medrek worker was beaten to death by ruling party officials after he refused to stop campaigning against them.

A government spokesman called the report "the biggest lie", and said the victim had in fact been a ruling party worker who died of complications of malaria and typhoid.  

Both sides say they have evidence to back up their claims, but no independent investigations have been conducted in the cases blamed on political violence.

Ethnic identity has always been an integral part of Ethiopian politics. Oromos comprise 35 to 40 percent of Ethiopia's estimated 80 million people, but no Oromo has ruled the country.  The present government is dominated by ethnic Tigrayans, who make up roughly six percent of the population.   

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid