Ethiopian opposition says third activist killed before vote – AFP
ADDIS ABABA — Gunmen have shot dead an Ethiopian opposition party activist, an opposition official said Monday, days after the government accused the party of killing a policeman in the same region.
Ethiopia holds elections on May 23 and both the government and its main rival, the Forum for Democracy and Dialogue (Medrek), have stepped up allegations of harassment, including killings.
“Our activist Girma Kabe was killed from gunshot wounds on April 26 while placing campaign posters,” former Ethiopian president Negasso Gidada, now an official of Medrek, told AFP.
Negasso said the incident took place in the Werejarso locality of Oromya region, the same province where similar attacks have taken place during the past two months.
“Authorities have dismissed it as a personal argument, but we have suspicions that the ruling party might have something to do with it,” he added.
Government spokesman Bereket Simon dismissed the claim as “a lie”.
“This person in the first place was not a member of their group,” he told AFP in a phone interview.
“He was killed during a fight with an armed person. It wasn’t politically motivated, millions of Ethiopians have personal firearms,” Bereket added.
It is the third time in two months that Medrek has claimed that its members have been targetted in such attacks, with one incident taking place in the northern Tigray region.
Tensions have risen in recent weeks as the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party and the opposition bloc accuse each other of attacking supporters.
On Sunday, authorities accused Medrek’s supporters of stabbing to death a policeman in Oromya, a week after the EPRDF said one of its candidates was killed by members of the same party as he left a political meeting.
Two people were also killed in the same region last week in another incident when a bomb was hurled by attackers during a meeting of a party from the ruling coalition.
Oromya is Ethiopia’s largest province and has the largest number of constituencies.
Around 30 million people have registered to vote for Ethiopia’s fourth elections since the Communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam was toppled in 1991.