Ethiopian govt. arrests opposition supporters ahead of general elections


At least 75 supporters of the opposition group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have been arrested ahead of a general election in Ethiopia, in a crackdown by the government on dissenting political views, Amnesty International said on Monday, January 27.

“The return of mass arrests of opposition activists and supporters is a worrying signal in Ethiopia. These sweeping arrests risk undermining the rights to freedom of expression and association ahead of the 2020 elections,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and southern Africa.

The arrests took place during the weekend across Oromia region, including in the towns of Finchawa and Shambu, the rights group added.

Among those detained was prominent activist ChaltuTakele. Police broke into her parents’ home in Shambu at 5am local time on Sunday and arrested her.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has proposed August 16, 2020 as the date for elections – the first to be held since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power in April last year.

He was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end hostility with neighbouring Eritrea, and was widely praised for unbanning the OLF and other political groups, and releasing thousands of detainees.

The OLF is a major political force in Oromia, but it was labelled a terrorist group by the previous government. (Source: BBC)