Home | News    Friday 11 September 2009

Ethiopia opposition parties form new alliance

By Tesfa-alem Tekle

September 10, 2009(ADDIS ABABA) — Eight major Ethiopian opposition political parties, in an unexpected move, announced a new coalition on Thursday to challenge the ruling party, most expected to win, in the upcoming national election.

The new coalition is announced two days after the ruling, Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), party’s council decided its chairman and the Prime minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi to stay in power for one more term.

As its primary plan of action, the opposition umbrella named as Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (FDDE) in a joint statement said that it will enter into negotiation with government for expansion of democratic space and transparency ahead of the elections.

Ethiopian Prime Minister convoying Ethiopia’s New Year wishes yesterday reaffirmed that his government is dedicated to conduct democratic and fair election. But some opposition leaders who spoke recently to Sudan Tribune said that they are already being harassed by government cadres, which they said is making it impossible for them to conduct election campaigns.

Other opposition members allege that their potential candidates are being intimidated or arrested on false charges; their regional offices are being closed. Government officials reject the claims as "an empty allegation with no single concrete proof".

Recently Ethiopia’s former president and opposition MP accused government of being behind disruption of a public political meeting in Adama town of the Oromiya region.

"Continuously endorsed new laws like the press laws, the passing of the civil society law and anti terror laws are leaving no democratic space to opposition political parties but arrest of political figures and journalists" the new coalition said in a joint statement

The FDDE also said that it will soon organize a public demonstration in Addis Ababa to push for the release of detained opposition leaders.

The new alliance comprises the Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement, the Ethiopian and Oromo Federalist Movement, the Somali Democratic Alliance Forces, UDJ, the Arena Tigray Democratic and Sovereignty Party and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF).

Gebru Asrat, the former northern Tigray region’s president is elected to lead the new alliance. He is also the leader of the Arena Tigray party. His party strongly believes that the Eritrea’s port of Assab should be returned back to Ethiopia.

The parties under the new alliance make up 80 of the nation’s parliament’s total 547 seats.

(ST)