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  • Defending human rights need to be a priority,opposition group slams Abiy's government. 25 March 2019 | View comments

  • Improvement of human rights situation in Ethiopia has been one of the major changes that the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed brought about.

    Recently, that has not been the case and many Ethiopians have already doubted the competence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed government to ensure the rule of law and the security of citizens in all parts of Ethiopia. For some, government reluctance to enforce rule of law is rather seen as mystrious; a strategy to avoid antagonizing ethnic support base.

    Even an opposition group that rather demonstrated positivist attitude, initially, towards the “reformist government” in Ethiopia is bashing it for failure to protect human rights of citizens.

    Ethiopian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) called a press conference on Thursday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and released a statement blaming the government for rights abuse and inability to enforce rule of law.

    “Defending basic human rights of citizens as a primary responsibility of government is forgotten,” said the statement from the party whose chairperson is Beyene Petros.

    The party was overt in pointing out that government authorities are engaged in egregious human rights violations and gobez aleqa (a reference used to denote youth groups who are putting themselves above the law) is intimidating citizens. There is a great deal of skepticism among politicized Ethiopians that Oromo Democratic Party (the party that Abiy Ahmed leads nominally) is exploiting youth groups such as Qeerroo as a tool to achive political motives.

    But for ESDP it just seems bizare situation. The party said that it is has found it unbelievable that the government is silent about human rights violations.

    The situation of ethnic Gedeos who were displaced from Guji (part of Oromo region of Ethiopia in the southern parts of the country) by what ESDP statement called “narrow” nationalist, demolition of residential houses in Legetafo, outside of Addis Ababa, and the developments that unfolded near Addis Ababa in recent weeks in connection with the transfer of condominium units in Koye Feche are some of the cases in point that Beyene Petros’ party raised to demonstrate its claims of human rights violation by government authorities and inability to enforce rule of law.

    The party also condemned the Federal government for not doing anything to support displaced Gedeo between August 2018 and March 2019 while the displaced were consumed by chronic humanitarian crisis.

    Equally criticized is federal government’s tendency not to return ethnic Gedeos to where they came from, Guji area, and instead settle them to places of their ethnic origin which the party sees as a burden on displaced people – economically as well as psychologically.

    Press secretary head in the office of the Prime Minister, Nigussue Tilahun, admitted that there have been issues regarding human rights violation and the rule of law, and said that the Federal government will not compromise the rule of law and will hold perpetrators of human rights violation accountable, as reported by VOA Amharic service.

    Ethiopian Social Democratic Party also made public its stand on the controversy surrounding Addis Ababa, a city over which Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) is claiming ethnic Oromo ownership under pressure from radical Oromo ethno nationalists from within and outside of the party.

    No disagreement should exist on the issue of Addis Ababa between parties who accepted the constitution, said Beyne Petros. The constitution does not give Oromo ownership of Addis Ababa.

    Amahara Democratic Party (ADP) one of the parties in the ruling coalition, also an ally of ODP in the struggle to end TPLF domination about a year ago, has made it clear that Addis Ababa belongs to all Ethiopians, and that clearly brings the two parties in a collision course.

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