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Sudan Tribune

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Ethiopian oppositions annoyed with government’s laxity

Jan 1, 2005 (ADDIS ABABA) — Jan As student protests against the Prime Minister Meles-led regime intensify, in Oromiya, opposition MPs who have joined the 547-member parliament from the United Ethiopia Democratic Forces (UEDF), the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), the independent Dr Negaso Gidada [former president of Ethiopia] and those from the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), tried in vain to table an issue on the agenda of the house.

According to Gebru Gebremariam of ONC/UEDF, the MPs were forced to present the request to the special government representative, Shiferaw Jarso, as the Speaker of the House, Ambassador Teshome Toga, refused to allow the subject to be discussed. “Nevertheless, we were met with the same refusal from Ato Shiferaw,” Gebru said.

The reason given by the government for disallowing the tabling of the agenda on the situation in Oromiya was that the situation was handled by the regional government.

“This is far from the truth. People are being arrested en masse, denied access to basic services and schools turned into scenes of violent clashes with the police,” Gebru said.

In an urgent meeting it conducted on Monday 26 December, the ONC noted that the situation in Oromiya needed prompt response if peace and stability were to reign supreme. “It all shows that the OPDO’s [Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, member of ruling coalition] handling of the situation has led to a deterioration of good governance,” the deputy head of youth affairs with ONC, Olbana Lelisa, said.

Asked what the ONC would do if the situation continued deteriorating while discussion on the issue was denied by ruling coalition EPRDF [Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front], Gebru said it was meaningless to sit idle in a parliament which turned a deaf ear to cries of people. He said the ONC, together with other Oromo opposition MPs, were still pondering over what to do next.

Meanwhile, protests by high and elementary school students against the EPRDF-led regime have continued in Oromiya as several students chanting anti-EPRDF slogans clashed with the police in western Welega and western Shewa. According to sources, the federal police used force to quell the uprising while taking several hundreds to the Didesa and Senkele camps in southern Ethiopia.

(The Reporter)