Ethiopia files terrorism charges against opposition leaders

Ethiopia announced on Saturday that it was accusing prominent opposition politicians Jowar Muhammad and Bekele Gerba of crimes including terrorism and incitement to violence, a move that could lead to further tensions in the Oromo resistance region. Is.

Ethiopia files terrorism charges against opposition leaders

The allegations - which could lead to life imprisonment - relate to the violence that erupted after the shooting deaths in June, a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group who acknowledges Oromo's feelings of political and economic backwardness.

In the days following Hachalu's June 29 assassination, 239 people were killed’ in ethnic violence and clashes with soldiers and police, who stressed the security challenges facing last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. ۔

Jowar and Bekele were caught’ in the subsequent mass arrests of more than 9,000 people, who have voiced criticism that Abe is using unrest to silence political opponents and critics.

The attorney general's office announced the charges against the 24 suspects in a Facebook post on Saturday.

These include "trying to provoke ethnic and religious conflicts so that citizens can turn to their fellow citizens."

Other suspects include a number of high-profile Abiy critics abroad, including prominent Oromo activist Tesgaye Regassa and former Abiy ally Bin Berhanemeskel Abebe

Jowar's lawyer, Tuli Bayyisa, told AFP on Saturday that he had not been informed’ of the allegations but had dismissed them as baseless.

"It's shocking. I'm 100 percent sure it could take years, years and years, but if the law really works, they won't prove the allegations," Tully said.

- Risk of further violence -

The attorney general's statement did not provide details about the allegations, but the team said in Jowar's case that they had found a hand in Hachalo's body, which resulted in the death of a police officer.

"No witness has spoken permanently about any of the crimes ... through Mr. Jowar or Mr. Bekele," he said.

Jowar played a key role in anti-government protests that brought Abiy to power in 2018.

Abe is Ethiopia's first Oromo leader, but he faces strong criticism from Oromo nationalists such as Jowar, who accuse him of being a poor advocate of their interests and acting like a dictator.

Jowar's trial threatens to spark violence in Addis Ababa and Oromo, the most populous area around the capital.

Last month, security forces shot dead at least five people in a crackdown on anti-millet protests.

And last October's scores were killed’ after Jowar accused security forces of plotting an attack.

Both members of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, Jowar and Bekele, are expected’ to appear in court on Monday.