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US Expresses Concern Over Ethiopia Opposition Leader’s Arrest

December 31, 2008

Birtukan Midekssa, head of the Unity for Democracy Justice party, irked the regime when she reportedly claimed during a recent visit to Europe that she had never voiced remorse or acknowledged any mistake to obtain her pardon in 2007.

“The U.S. is concerned about the government of Ethiopia’s arrest of Unity for Democracy and Justice Party leader Birtukan Midekssa,” the embassy’s information officer Darragh Paradiso told AFP.

“We are particularly concerned by reports that Birtukan’s pardon has been revoked and she has begun a life sentence in prison.”

The 35-year-old, who was detained with dozens of opposition figures and supporters in the aftermath of disputed 2005 elections, was last week given a three-day ultimatum by the authorities to confirm or deny the reports.

The justice ministry said Tuesday she had resumed serving her life term.

The U.S., a staunch Ethiopian ally and the country’s top aid contributor, called for more political freedom.

“A vibrant opposition, independent media, and a robust civil society are essential elements of any democracy,” Paradiso said.

“The U.S. looks to the government of Ethiopia to provide the political space necessary for them to function. Steps that appear to criminalize dissent impede progress on democratization,” he added.

Birtukan’s party made its biggest electoral gains in the 2005 polls and cried foul over reported fraud, claiming it was robbed of victory by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ruling party.

The ensuing unrest left close to 200 civilians dead and drew international condemnation.

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5 comments on “US Expresses Concern Over Ethiopia Opposition Leader’s Arrest

  1. It is good that the US showed concern over the repression of opposition figure. But one error I found on this AFP’ report is when it says: “Birtukan’s party made its biggest electoral gains in the 2005 election”

    It is only few months since Birtukan’s party was founded. If the report was referring to the former CUDP party then CUDP was not a party, it was just a coalition of four parties. Among the four parties, UEDP-MEDHIN headed now by Lidetu Ayalew and AUEP headed by Hailu Shawel are the two main parties that can be considered as the life and blood of the former CUDP.

    Birtukan Mideksa belonged to Kestedemena party that came to existence just few months before Ethiopian election 2005. Birtukan joined Kestedemena after election 2005 with the invitation of Dr Birhanu who is now in exile in U.S.A.

    Although Birtukan joined politics just after election 2005 and can be considered as least experienced, she is a promising woman and has a bright future especially if she is accompanied by like minded party colleagues.

  2. US is still plaqying double games. I should say in bold that Birtukan should be released immediately and un-conditionally. There is no need to be a prophete to predict that Woyane will release Birtukan when it faces the expected criticism from the international aid groups and some US congress-men. But, woyane will prepare another paper to be signed by Birtukan not to participate in any political activities once she is released. That is the main objective of Birtukan`s re-arrest.

  3. I am very annoyed by the destructive nature of the Ethiopian Diaspora. Birtrukan’s recent problem is 100% the making of the Diaspora.

    Fully aware of what the Meles’ regime is capable of, it was unwise on the part of the Diaspora to give a pretext for the brutual Meles by asking such a question.

    The Diaspora should learn to let go the past and focus on the future.

  4. Congratulations the few naive and backward Diaspora!

    You sacrificed Birtukan for nothing!

    What did you achieve now?

    Grow up!!!

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