Home | News    Monday 27 April 2009

Ethiopia says foiled "terrorist" conspiracy, arrests 35

By Tesfa-alem Tekle

April 26, 2009 (Addis Ababa) — Ethiopian security forces foiled a "terror" act
plotted by "Ginbot 7", a little known group led by a former opposition leader, Birhanu Nega, said the national intelligence, security service and federal police joint anti- terrorist task force.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the joint task force said that after a close follow up it has arrested 35 alleged plotters from the group who were in final preparation to lunch wide terrorist attacks and to sabotage the government.

Ethiopia’s state run television today displayed different arms, bombs, satellite facilities, radio communications, computers, military uniforms and planning documents that were seized from the hands of suspects.

The task force said cases of the suspects is under investigation and details will be disclosed soon. It also said that it is closely investigating to hunt down the remaining plotters and collaborators, who remain at large.

The "Ginbot 7" group is set up by former opposition leader, Dr Birhanu Nega, an associate professor in economics, currently teaching at Pennisylvania University.

Ginbot 7 was named after May 15 in the Ethiopian calendar. The date recalls the Election Day in the 2005 Ethiopia’s general election, where post election violence left some 193 protesters dead.

The "subversive activities" of the terrorist group, which was established by Dr Birhanu Nega, has declared "an armed struggle to dismantle the national constitutional system through force saying no more peaceful struggle" the statement said.

According to the task force, the group has organized a military and a civilian sub teams in the country by spending hundreds of thousands of dollar.

The task force has accused Dr. Birhanu Nega of backing the foiled plot and also of a coup plot which the statement said was an attempt to change government in unconstitutional way.

But in an interview in Lewisburg yesterday Birhanu,51 immediately denied the accusations saying he supports efforts to spread democracy in his native Ethiopia , but not by backing a coup attempt.

"I’m very suspicious that there was an attempt at all," said Berhanu Nega during an interview at his home outside of Lewisburg in north-central Pennsylvania . "This is not a government that has any credibility whatsoever in terms of telling the truth."

He said he did not know who may have been arrested, and said it could have easily been some sort of overreaction.

"The government, every time, it panics," he said. "It’s always treason, always acting against the government."

In 2005, Birhanu became the country’s first elected mayor when he won the mayoral race in Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital.

Berhanu was elected as mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005 but was arrested afterward along with more than 100 other opposition politicians and stood trial for treason. He and the others were freed in 2007 in a pardon deal. He left Ethiopia after the trial.