Press Statement: The government fails once again to uphold the rule of law – UDJP
In a matter of one week, open lawlessness wins twice in Addis Ababa. On 29 November 2009, Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) had called an Extra-ordinary Congress scheduled to be held at the Imperial Hotel. The meeting was permitted by the Addis Ababa City Administration in writing. The permit was copied to the relevant security and law enforcement bodies. UDJ also had delivered a copy of the permit to the Police Command, under whose jurisdiction Imperial Hotel is, to make sure that it had reached the immediately responsible body. The Extra-ordinary Congress was openly disrupted by a group of individuals who were dismissed from the party for disciplinary reasons and. UDJ asked for police help. No help came. The government failed to uphold the rule of law and lawlessness reigned at the Imperial Hotel.
Today, 6 December 2009, exactly a week later, the government failed to uphold the rule of law once again and lawlessness reigned at the UDJ headquarters. The National Council of UDJ was scheduled to meet this morning at 10 a.m. The group of individuals who were dismissed from the party, the very same group that disrupted the November 29 meeting, came to the UDJ headquarter early in the morning—Ethiopian Television came with them– beat the guard, damaged the main gate and forced itself into the premises of the party office. Some of the individuals entered the building. A situation was created where it was not possible to conduct a meeting without creating a situation for violent confrontation.
We went to the Kirkos Sub-city Police Commission and asked for help. There was no help. We went to the Addis Ababa Police Commission and asked for help. There was no help. No law enforcement body was willing to come to our office, even to see what the situation looked like. We had no choice but to cancel the meeting.
If the individuals who were dismissed from the party believed that the party had acted illegally against them, they had three avenues for obtaining justice.
1. They could have appealed to the Audit and Inspection Commission of the party as provided in Article 12.5 of its bylaw.
2. They could have taken the party to court. Proclamation No. 573/2007, Article 30, Sub-Article 2 (on party registration) says that any party member who feels that his party has taken illegal measures against him can appeal to the Federal High Court.
3. If the individual is not satisfied by the decision of the Federal High Court, he can appeal to the Federal Supreme Court.
The dismissed individuals have not made use of any of the above legal avenues. Instead, they have resorted to violence and to illegal means of disrupting the operations of the party with impunity. Having failed to get any help from the police, we are preparing to go to court. At this stage, UDJ feels that it has no protection of the law.
Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ)
6 December 2009