Call for opposition conference

The opposition Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) released an urgent appeal on Thursday, which said that EDP member Tewfid Lalle had been killed, and executive committee member Tamirat Tarekegn arrested, along with 40 other EDP members.

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) said in a statement also issued on Thursday that the demonstrations in Ethiopia constituted a “major uprising”. It condemned “excessive force”, saying the use of special police forces had resulted in the arrests and deaths of students and civilians. The OLF called on the Red Cross and international organisations to investigate the death of an Oromo student in Mekele, northern Ethiopia. The student, Simee Tarrafaa, was found dead after joining in student protests in the Tigrayan capital. The statement also called on the international community to “realise the seriousness of recent developments... and facilitate the convening of a broad-based conference comprising all progressive and genuine opposition forces”.

Spokesman for the OLF, Lencho Bati, told IRIN that the demonstrations were linked to a recent split in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant party in the government coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Bati said the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi - who narrowly triumphed over dissent in the TPLF - had been “a rule of secrecy that is now more exposed”. Bati denied that the OLF was involved in encouraging anarchy.