Ethiopia opposition group to boycott local elections – The Associated Press

April 10th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s largest opposition group said Thursday it will boycott this month’s elections, claiming the ruling party has forced tens of thousands of candidates to drop out through intimidation, detentions and threats.

“We are getting out of the whole process. The whole process is an illegal process,” Beyene Petros, leader of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, a national coalition of opposition parties, told The Associated Press. (more…)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s largest opposition group said Thursday it will boycott this month’s elections, claiming the ruling party has forced tens of thousands of candidates to drop out through intimidation, detentions and threats.

“We are getting out of the whole process. The whole process is an illegal process,” Beyene Petros, leader of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, a national coalition of opposition parties, told The Associated Press.

Ethiopia, a key U.S. ally in the Horn of Africa, has a long history of human rights abuses and flawed elections. Government security forces killed 193 civilians protesting alleged fraud in the 2005 general elections, which the European Union said were flawed.

Ethiopia holds local, regional and some federal elections on April 13 and 20. But the main opposition groups say at least 17,000 of their candidates have dropped out under pressure, many in the volatile west where a rebellion by the Oromo ethnic group has been simmering for decades.

The figures, which the opposition cited from their own tallies, could not be independently verified.
The government denied the allegations. “That’s simply baseless,” said Bereket Simon, special adviser to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

“There is no harassment, that’s why nobody can prove it,” he said. “We haven’t experienced that, and they haven’t experienced it either. Both the opposition and the ruling party haven’t experienced any intimidation.”

But a dozen candidates and voters told the AP about intimidation by local officials with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.

“Intimidation is going on on a mass scale,” said Bulcha Demeksa, a lawmaker who heads the opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement. “People have been told all kinds of scary things, like their children won’t find jobs when they finish school … that if they starve, they will not get any food.”

David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, told a congressional committee in Washington in March that he was concerned about this month’s elections.

“The local elections are an opportunity for advancing democracy in Ethiopia,” Shinn told the panel. “If they fail to achieve this goal, it will be an enormous lost opportunity.”

In Nedjo, deep in Ethiopian coffee country, Seifu Tamiru said local officials from the ruling party forced him to abandon his ambitions of joining the town council.

“They said, ‘If you keep on running for this position, you will not be employed as a teacher,’” said Seifu, 26, of the OFDM. “They said, ‘Nobody in your family is going to be employed.’”

Seifu’s campaign didn’t even last a week.

Beyene, leader of the UEDF, said at least one candidate from his party faced an attempt on his family’s life.

“They torched a family when they were sleeping,” he said.

OFDM said up to 3,000 candidates may have been forced to drop out. Beyene said his UEDF party lost 14,000 candidates for local seats.

Beyene said he fears violence in constituencies where his party’s candidates have popular support.

“My fear is that in many of these places there will be violence,” he said. “The worrisome point is how this society is being polarized. And this follows ethnic lines.”

  1. fish
    | #1

    Why now beyene was in the parlament for his sallary and orchestrated the disintegration of kinijit and no body byes his ill concived and inferior openion. He is not no better than the savage woyanes.

  2. CURU ETHIOPIA
    | #2

    DR Beyene !who told that PM Meles is free andcomfort since he was at chair.GOD BLESS YOU.

  3. wonu
    | #3

    Believe me,beyene is the most hypocrat politician in the country.Who will believe him untill he shows his talk by action not to participate.Remember,last time what he done,for almost 6 months he declares he will not join parliament but at the last date he changes his mind and joined to earn 2000 birr salary and protection from arrest and be in Akaki.You can’t fool me thousand time beyu,tenekakitenal………you wana to stay in ethiopian politics until your grave like a tekawami…..fool….show me what you accomplish for the last 15 years.Big Fool!!!!!!

  4. Derese
    | #4

    Wonu,

    I agree with you. Watch out Beyene Petros.
    If oppostions are firm and strong tplfites are done. Hope Beyene won’t betray them, again

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