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Ethiopian Authorities Arrest Opposition Members

Ethiopian authorities have arrested 43 opposition members, accusing them of planning to overthrow the government.

Minister of Information Bereket Simon tells VOA, the opposition members arrested in the Amhara region Sunday were gearing up for an attack against his government.

"They have been acquiring weapons," said Mr. Simon. "They have been smuggling lethal instruments. So, after carefully surveying all these things, the Amhara police has apprehended 43 [members]. They were planning to attack different government administrative posts and to disrupt social and economic movements."

Mr. Bereket says the accused are being investigated, and will be summoned to appear before court.

He also warns the opposition not to do anything illegal during a planned demonstration this Sunday. He accuses the opposition of seeking to incite violence.

VOA was unable to reach the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy for comment.

The news agency Reuters quoted an opposition official as saying the Coalition for Unity and Democracy is against armed struggle, and the intention of the arrests was, in his words, "a ploy to erase our members and weaken our peaceful struggle."

Tensions between the government and opposition have been spiraling ever since the country's May 15 elections.

Early results had indicated a victory for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, which sparked violent demonstrations and mass arrests of protesters, who accused the coalition of massive vote-rigging and other fraud.

In mid-June, the United States issued a statement condemning what it called the unnecessary use of excessive force by Ethiopian security forces.