OFC leader Dr. Merera Gudina was accused of backing a terrorist group and flouting guidelines of a state of emergency imposed in October during his trip to Belgium.
By Aaron Maasho (Reuters) |
An Ethiopian opposition leader from a region hit by deadly anti-government protests last year pleaded not guilty in court on Friday, after prosecutors brought charges against him for inciting unrest.
Merera Gudina, leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) from the Oromia region which was the center of protests against land grabs, was arrested in November after returning from meeting members of the European Parliament in Brussels.
On Friday, prosecutors formally charged Merera with a bid to “dismantle or disrupt social, economic and political activity for political, religious and ideological aim … under the guise of political party leadership,” according to a charge sheet brought before a high court in Addis Ababa.
Two other dissidents were also charged with similar accusations in absentia.
Last week, Human Rights Watch criticized the move to arrest Merera Gudina.
“Instead of taking actions that would demonstrate genuine resolve to address long-term grievances, the government again used politically motivated charges to further crack down on opposition parties, reinforcing a message that it will not tolerate peaceful dissent,” the U.S.-based watchdog said.
More than 500 people were killed in protests in the Oromia region that stretched for months until the government declared a six-month state of emergency in October.
Read more about “Ethiopian opposition leader pleads not guilty to incitement charges” on Reuters
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