Ethiopia's main opposition party
is demanding an independent investigation into the arrest of politicians
accused of plotting to overthrow Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government. The
Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) contends that the allegation
leading to the arrests is a pretext for eliminating potential candidates ahead
of next year's general elections. The
government contends that it was preparing the evidence well ahead of next
week's expected day in court for the accused. The Meles government recently
arrested a group of 40 people, describing them as belonging to a terror network
plotting to topple the government.
OFDM opposition leader Bulcha Demeksa told
VOA that there is need to authenticate Addis Ababa's accusations independently.
Oromo ethnic group has been at the receiving end of a lot of oppression,
imprisonment, even torture massively. I have them in mind when I speak about
imprisonment of politicians. Now this
time, the suspected plotters as they said are not from the Oromo ethnic group,
and these politicians were being arrested," Demeksa said.
He said the government
claims could only be believed if substantiated by an independent investigation
of the allegations.
"Without a third party
confirmation or verification, I cannot accept this, based on my experience --
my experience for the last 17 or 18 years. I just don't accept all these on
face value what (advisor to prime minister) Mr. Bereket Simon says," he
Demeksa said the opposition
stands in unison calling for a thorough investigation into the overthrow claims
against the arrested coup plotters.
"We have seen thousands of
statements in the past which were not based on facts. I didn't say this was not
true. The processes are not genuine. The processes are not right. I only said this has to be verified by other
than the communication agency of the government," Demeksa said.
He called on international
bodies to look into Addis Ababa's claims.
"Maybe an association of
international journalists or a joint group of foreign journalists. Let them
come and talk to these people and ask them questions, and see if they are
really criminals. We don't just accept what government says. Not only Ethiopia.
It is all around the world that government claims many things, and these have
to be verified," he said.
Demeksa said it is not clear
without authentication that 40 people plotted to overthrow the administration,
as the government claims.
How do we know it is based
on facts? Because we have heard so many times in the case of the Oromo people,
they have been arrested; they have been alleged to have done this, to have done
that. How many thousands of Oromos have gone to jail and stayed in jail and
suffered in jail? How do I know that this time it is true? So I am saying it
has to be verified by, let's say, an international group of journalists,"
Ethiopia's opposition has often accused Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi's administration of harassment. It claims its candidates were
intimidated during local elections in April of last year, charges the