News / Africa

Ethiopian Regional Leader said to Admit Role in Ethnic Killings

The president of a volatile Ethiopian regional state has been fired from his party leadership position after reportedly admitting involvement in a 2003 ethnic massacre. The leadership of the southern Gambella region is coming under increasing scrutiny for corruption and abusing the rule of law.

Two privately-owned Ethiopian newspapers are reporting Gambella Regional President Omod Obang Olum has been removed from his post as head of the ruling Gambella Peoples' Democratic Movement.  The GPDM is affiliated with the country's ruling party, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front.

It was not immediately clear whether Omod Obang would retain the post of regional president, but in Ethiopia's de-facto one-party system, party positions are considered more important than government titles.

Several other GPDM executive committee members were also reported to have lost their jobs.

The dismissals followed a week-long self-evaluation of the government's performance.  Among the issues raised were corruption, the controversial practice of leasing huge tracts of land to foreign investors, and a December, 2003 massacre of more than 400 members of the minority ethnic Anuak community.

Sources contacted by VOA's Amharic language service in Gambella say the normally secret proceedings caused an uproar after the testimony was surreptitiously recorded and made public.  Omod Obang reportedly can be heard on the recording admitting a role in the mass killings, and arguing that if he is to be held accountable, so should Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.  

A 2005 Human Rights Watch report accused Ethiopia's military of widespread murder, rape and torture of ethnic Anuak in Gambella in December, 2003.  But a subsequent government investigation largely absolved the military of wrongdoing.

Coincidentally, Human Rights Watch is releasing another report about Gambella on Tuesday.  That report criticizes the Ethiopian government policy of forced villagization, the resettling indigenous people from land that is being leased for commercial agriculture.  Many of the estimated 70,000 people being relocated are Anuak pastoralists.

In a telephone interview, Human Rights Watch researcher Ben Rawlence said Omod Obang's apparent confession should prompt a reopening of the investigation into the 2003 massacre.

"Human Rights Watch investigated the events of 2003 and 2004 in Gambella and we called for an investigation of that at the time, so if he is now talking about his role, I would hope that that might provide an opportunity to investigate what happened back then and to hold some of those people to account," Rawlence said.

In an apparent coincidence, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Booth made what officials called a long-planned two-day visit last week to Gambella.  An embassy press release said the ambassador spoke to Regional President Omod Obang to share views on regional development and commercial farming issues.  The statement said Booth had also met representatives of  the U.N. refugee agency.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid