Ethiopia defends detention of opposition leader

by wadani | Saturday, Dec 3, 2016

A prominent Ethiopian opposition leader has been incarcerated for “violating the provisions of the state of emergency” and the matter will be “handled accordingly,” a government official said Friday.

Speaking to reporters, government spokesperson Negeri Lencho said the detention of Merara Gudina on Wednesday – joining thousands also in detention – was solely related to the state of emergency.

“There is a provision in the state of emergency that says connecting and conspiring with organizations labeled as terrorists is illegal,” he added.

Gudina, perhaps the most outspoken critique of the Ethiopian government, is the chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

His arrest came after a visit to Brussels, where he testified at the European Parliament, along with Berhanu Nega, leader of the outlawed armed group Patriotic Ginbot 7, and Olympic silver medalist Lelisa Feisa, who crossed his arms in Rio this summer in an “x” gesture in solidarity with anti-government protesters before going into exile.

Under the six-month state of emergency, imposed in mid-October to quell months of violent anti-government protests, to date the Ethiopian government says it has put some 11,000 people in detention.

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