Ethiopian Opposition Parliamentary Candidate Killed – By Jason McLure (Bloomberg)

March 2nd, 2010 Print Print Email Email

An Ethiopian opposition candidate was stabbed to death by six unidentified men in an attack described by government opponents as part of an intimidation campaign by the ruling party ahead of elections in May. (more…)

An Ethiopian opposition candidate was stabbed to death by six unidentified men in an attack described by government opponents as part of an intimidation campaign by the ruling party ahead of elections in May.

Aregawi Gebre-Yohannes was killed this morning at a restaurant he operates near his home in the northern region of Tigray, Gebru Asrat, chairman of the Arena party, said in a phone interview today from Addis Ababa, the capital. Communications Minister Bereket Simon, a member of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, said the killing wasn’t politically motivated.

“These guys who had been engaged in artisanal gold mining went to his bar to drink and finally there was a quarrel somehow between the killer and this person,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s not political, it’s a personal quarrel.”

Ethiopia holds presidential and parliamentary elections on May 23. The last vote in 2005 was marred by a crackdown on opposition protesters that left 193 people dead. Government opponents have complained that state media, which controls virtually all of Ethiopia’s broadcasters, is being used for pro- Meles propaganda in this year’s vote.

Last month, state radio reported that political opponents of Meles are “covertly and overtly” collaborating with neighboring Eritrea, Ethiopia’s arch-enemy.

Followed

Aregawi, a merchant and restaurant owner, had been arrested twice since December for attending opposition meetings and distributing Arena literature, Gebru said. The six men had followed him to his restaurant, provoked an incident late in the evening, and stabbed him, he said.

Members of the Arena party are facing harassment and intimidation by ruling party supporters in the Tigray region ahead of the vote, Gebru said.

“This is what the strategists tell the members of the ruling party, I think this is the direction they want to follow,” he said. “It’s becoming very difficult for us to run.”

A second Arena candidate for parliament, Ayalew Beyene, was beaten by soldiers on Feb. 28 near the northern town of Axum, said Negasso Gidada, a leader of the opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice party. Like Aregawi, he had previously been arrested for attending an Arena meeting. No arrests have been made in connection with the beating, he said.

“It is believed that they are normal federal army members,” said Negasso, a former president of Ethiopia.

‘Pressurized’

Bereket, the government’s communications minister, also disputed this report, saying Ayalew had “tried to pressurize a student to read Arena” campaign literature, and that the student and the candidate began fighting. Both Ayalew and the student were detained by police, he said.

“There is an absolute guarantee” that the safety of opposition candidates will be protected, Bereket said.

Calls to Demsash Hailu, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s federal police, didn’t connect. Tesfaye Mengesha, chairman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, said in a phone interview he did not have any information about the killing and referred queries to a spokesman.

The Atlanta-based Carter Center has declined to observe this year’s elections, the Addis Ababa-based Reporter newspaper said. A visiting electoral group from the European Union said last month it had not yet decided whether to send an observation mission.

The opposition has claimed that Western powers, including the U.S. and the U.K., have refrained from criticizing Meles in order not to offend a key ally in the Horn of Africa and preserve international aid efforts in the famine-prone nation.

‘Free and Fair’

“It would be premature to pronounce the Ethiopian elections either good or bad prior to the holding of those elections,” Johnnie Carson, the Obama Administration’s top diplomat for Africa, told reporters on Feb. 24. “We hope that this election will be run freely and fairly.”

Yesterday, Ethiopia opposition leader Lidetu Ayalew criticized the ruling party for dividing the nation along ethnic lines, a move he said would endanger the unity of the country.

The ruling party’s administration “is structured on our differences, it has no space for the things we have in common as a nation,” Lidetu, chairman of the Ethiopian Democratic Party, said in a televised debate last night. “The basis for federalism should not only be language.”

After Meles’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front rebels seized power in the country in 1991, Ethiopia’s administration was divided along ethnic lines, with administrative districts named after the largest ethnic group living there.

Critics including the International Crisis Group have said the system has fomented ethnic conflict, particularly since members of Meles’s minority Tigrayan ethnic group retain a disproportionate number of senior posts in government and the army.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

  1. Nasru
    | #1

    It is sad. This is supposed to be a message to one of ‘their own’. “How dare you betray us and side with the people, the interest of the people of Tigray?”.
    It is only a matter of time before TPLF’s frustrations show up and begins arresting and killing in masse in Tigray region.
    One thing I am confident about is that these types of harassments and intimidations actually will work against Woyane’s intentions and instead, the Tigray people will be embolden to challenge the autocratic rulers who ‘trade’ under the names of the Tigay people.

    May God rest Aregawi’s soul in Peace. He will always be remembered by Ethiopians as one who gave his life for democratic rule to reign in Ethiopia.

  2. so sad
    | #2

    Eshoh Be-esoh yewetal, as the saying goes, manifest the inavitable reality in that history repeat itself as seen during Mengistu’s time. When Mengistu kill his own officers, his confidences were eroded and the rest sell military secret to the forign and domestic enemies including TPLF, which in turn TPLF share the information with ELF. Both collaborated their effort to overthrow Mengistu. Here Meles is intemidating opposing Tigrians to his rule outside Adwa in a hope to stay on state power.

    For Meles from adwa, there is no difference between other ethnic groups be it Amhara, Gurage or others to other tigrians because Meles see all others as “Cheka” (mudd)and “Tilashet” (dark mark)as long as THEY are not from Adwa. What a psychotic leader ethiopia had in its history??. DO ANYONE KNOWS THAT ADWANS ARE NOT MARRYING MEKELIANS? the type of tribal-racism. THERE IS NOTHING TO MARVEL WHEN ONE KILLS HIS OPPONENT UNDER THIS CIRCUMSTANCES.

  3. tewbel
    | #3

    If they behave like this in their home kilil, it does not take a lot of imagination to know the kind of oppression and violence they commit in the parts of the country. What are the democratic donors are saying?

  4. Yinegal
    | #4

    As an individual, who seeks and prays for our unity and integrity, I like to forward my deepest condolence to the dearest son of Ethiopia Aregawi Gebre-Yohannes families.
    May GOD rest Aregawi’s soul in peace.
    Sir! Your temerity will be remembered always

  5. justice for all
    | #5

    Here we go again, Woyanes doing what they do best…kill, kill, and kill again and again just to get what they want. In woyanes world there is nothing wrong in taking another man’s life and devastating the victims spouses and their children. I wonder how many Ethiopians have been killed in the last twenty years by Woyanes and how many Ethiopians have vanished and their families are still looking for them. It is heartbreaking and maddening.

  6. Anonymous
    | #6

    How many more of its daughters and sons like Aregawi should Tigrai sacrifice on the altar of Meles before it does away with this arrogant and cruel graven image?

  7. seble
  8. Tulu Oda
    | #8

    We must be angry and emboldened by the evil deeds of tyrant Meles. We must stand united and resolute to defeat the dictator. MEDREK must ignore this act of shameful intimidation and go on to mobilize its followers for the election.

  9. mateos
    | #9

    ONLY ONE MURDERED SO FAR??? in my humble opinion since the aiga jungle killers arrived in Addis nearly a million people have been murdered or executed all over Ethiopia; AND THESE NUMBERS ARE EXCLUDING THOSE INNOCENTS THAT WERE SLAUGHTERED DURING ETHIO-ERITREA WAR, DURING SOMALIA’S INVASION. Meles and his boss Bereket days are numbered because the innocent blood they spill for their empty egoes are screaming for the heavens. I just hope they will not escape the country and enjoy the resources they looted from the poor Ethiopian people.

  10. WEGESHAW
    | #10

    For sure TPLF is behind this brutal perpetration of crime as usual!
    All political parties be it the “loyal” or “the real opposition” should not only condemn this murder but have to bring it to the knowledge of the world!
    This shows that none of the parties are free! It is “NEG BENE” as the saying goes in Amharic.I think the so called “free election” or “YETEBELA EKUB” as we say it back home is taking a dangerous direction and TPLF is in desperation which needs a little push for its’ down fall. The tool is unity!
    Ethiopia shall prevail!

  11. selam
    | #11

    Please people come to your sense! A single incident which is not even investigated should not be a big deal. In every country there are such incidents.
    The question should be: Do we have a fertile ground for opposion and holding election in ethiopia right now? In my opinion I say, No!
    Who is to blame? All of US! The opposition for becoming irresponsible opposion, targetting Tigrayans as the only beneficiaries of the regime, while they are the number one victimes of the wars in Ethiopia.
    the Governmnet for pretending everything is fine. The governmnet should contribute its share for making the fertile ground for the opposion to work and develop.

    Let’s fisrt handle the bigger issues!!
    no non-sense thinking can bring change. Let’s make an end to the ESHOH BE ESHOH mentality either all are eshoh or no Eshoh if we we do not believe in ethnic divsion. while fighting ethnicity why should our arguments be based on ethnic mentality?

  12. Solomon
    | #12

    Solomon Says:

    MEDREK NEED NOT BE INTIMIDATED

    BY TPLF MURDER.

    The death of Aregawi Gebre-Yohannes,a medrek candidate ,who was stubbed to death while he was campaigning in the state of Tigray,sends a shock wave across the nation.The explanaton given surrounding the circumstances of his death is controversial. The statement that this candidate has been arrested before ,at least, twice while on his campaign trail,and the government’s claim that the assailiants acted on personal grudge, can not be harmonized.

    Many will view this cold blooded murder the work of TPLF security.The fact that he has been stubbed to death and not shot is intended to conceal government foul play.It is impossible for TPLF to allow free election since this will produce embrrassing defeat at the ballot box,even,in her strongholds.

    Finaly,all Medrek candidates need all the encouragemnt they need.Ethiopians will do every thing in their power to give Medrek a chance,at a time where the rest of the world is waching,with special interest,how this election is being conducted.Those who are calling for boycott,in this forum,are enemy of Ethiopia and you need to be exposed as such.

  13. Dejen
    | #13

    Meles and Simon are the best liars in the World and Mengistu was better than them.Meles, your days close….Americá´s dog.

  14. Anti-woyane
    | #14

    @ Dejen

    How can you compare Mengistu and Meles??

    Mengistu was a geniune,,,he has moral!!he was not thief! he was not lier ,he loves his country and poor people of ethiopia…His only fault was his reaction toward EPRP,,,,even that bad reaction was ignited and facilitated by the EPRP themselve…
    This the so-called meles,,Is he a human being first of all?? Thief,,Arrogant,,selfish…lier,,,stupid,,have no word to express him…Death to him and his ugly wife.

  15. ትርጉም
    | #15

    I am writing for those who surprised by Aregawi Gebre-Yohannes murder.
    Please ask, read and research about TPLF. Then you get the actual picture of it. Many thousand have been perished by Melese and TPLF cadres. There is nothing new as long Meles is in power.

  16. Ferenj lebaw
    | #16

    This is a theatre. Don’t believe it. And if it is a real kill, it is done for theatre. It is a news that also came from a ferenj which is not different, if not worse, than Oreo Cookie Meles Zenawi. Can a slave be more brutal than his owners? Think again. Meles in reality is a “Wus”. Believe me the killing is done for Theatre.

  17. M…………
    | #17

    ወያኔ መበላላት ባህላቸው ነው

  18. Anonymous
    | #18

    #13 and #14, I agree with you but:
    I believe Mengestu had undying love for his beloved country Ethiopia and a trained soldier who swear to die and protect his country and his people…he came to power with good intentions to keep the Ethiopia he loved united and to protect Ethiopia’s borders from domestic and foreign enemies and to provide for all Ethiopians fairly. Unfortunately, the Ethiopian government he came to govern got so corrupted by money and power hungry people and by domestic enemies like Issayass and Meles…then, the well trained soldier Mengestu became a power hungry monster and literally a mad man…gave orders to kill anything and everything. Mengestu had caused tremendous amount and immeasurable grieves and everlasting nightmares and heartaches to thousands and thousands of Ethiopian parents as Meles…Mengestu is a cold-blooded killer and I hate that monster as much as I hate Meles.
    The only difference between Meles and Mengestu is the love of country. Mengestu would have died before letting Eretria go with the only Ethiopian port, giving the land he fought to protect to Sudan and to other foreign countries; he couldn’t have robbed Ethiopia to be a Billionaire while Ethiopians going hungry and die…these were good qualities, but at the end that soldier who signed up to protect Ethiopians…committed horrific unforgettable crimes in Ethiopian history and Mengestu plowed the same road for the next dictator Meles to follow suit and to be worse than himself in so many ways and the story continues.
    In the other hand, Meles doesn’t know what LOVING a country and Ethiopian people means and he doesn’t care to know, Meles never has love for Ethiopia and Ethiopians and he never will. He came into power to loot and to provide for Eritrea; to make himself and his friends wealthy at the expense of eighty million Ethiopian people and to expand his greater Tigrea province; to kill anybody who came on their way of looting—And so far, Meles and Co. have done just that and more…abusing innocent people, killing, and looting–what a quality to have for mafia recruiters. Meles is the worst leader in Ethiopian history in more ways than we can count.

  19. justice for all
    | #19

    #13 and #14, I agree with you but:
    I believe Mengestu had undying love for his beloved country Ethiopia and a trained soldier who swear to die and protect his country and his people…he came to power with good intentions to keep the Ethiopia he loved united and to protect Ethiopia’s borders from domestic and foreign enemies and to provide for all Ethiopians fairly. Unfortunately, the Ethiopian government he came to govern got so corrupted by money and power hungry people and by domestic enemies like Issayass and Meles…then, the well trained soldier Mengestu became a power hungry monster and literally a mad man…gave orders to kill anything and everything. Mengestu had caused tremendous amount and immeasurable grieves and everlasting nightmares and heartaches to thousands and thousands of Ethiopian parents as Meles…Mengestu is a cold-blooded killer and I hate that monster as much as I hate Meles.
    The only difference between Meles and Mengestu is the love of country. Mengestu would have died before letting Eretria go with the only Ethiopian port, giving the land he fought to protect to Sudan and to other foreign countries; he couldn’t have robbed Ethiopia to be a Billionaire while Ethiopians going hungry and die…these were good qualities, but at the end that soldier who signed up to protect Ethiopians…committed horrific unforgettable crimes in Ethiopian history and Mengestu plowed the same road for the next dictator Meles to follow suit and to be worse than himself in so many ways and the story continues.
    In the other hand, Meles doesn’t know what LOVING a country and Ethiopian people means and he doesn’t care to know, Meles never has love for Ethiopia and Ethiopians and he never will. He came into power to loot and to provide for Eritrea; to make himself and his friends wealthy at the expense of eighty million Ethiopian people and to expand his greater Tigrea province; to kill anybody who came on their way of looting—And so far, Meles and Co. have done just that and more…abusing innocent people, killing, and looting–what a quality to have for mafia recruiters. Meles is the worst leader in Ethiopian history in more ways than we can count.

  20. HAYELOM
    | #20

    @so sad
    …..YOUR COMMENT AT THE LAST SENTENCES YOU MADE IS NOT RIGHT
    THERE IS NO DIFFRNRNCE BETWEEN TIGREANS. WE DO INTERMARRAGES BETWEEN THE
    PEOPLE NO MATTER FROM WHAT REGION OF TIGRAY YOU COME.
    YOU SAID ON YOUR ARTICLE THAT PEOPLE FROM ADUWA DON’T DO MARRAIGES WITH
    PEOPLE OF MAKALLE IS FULL OF SHIT AND THAT MAKES YOU LOOK AN IDIOT ALSO.

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