Opposition Groups Resurface, Anti-terrorism Law Challenged in Ethiopia

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Written by Makula Dunbar

The first large-scale protest in Addis Ababa since 2005, activists and members of Ethiopian government opposition parties rallied against the country’s anti-terrorism law, Reuters reported.

Enacted in 2009 and ending in a possible 10-20 year jail sentence, the law targets anyone publishing information that influences acts of terrorism. Within Ethiopia’s 547-seat legislature, one member is a government opposition representative.

Members of Unity for Democracy and Justice — an opposition political party — spoke out at a conference also in Addis Ababa, and released a statement saying the government is unfairly shunning the voices of the people. Any opposing position, UDJ says, is deemed as a threat.

“We shall demand that the anti-terror law be abolished immediately. It contradicts the constitution and violates the rights of people,” Daniel Tefera, UDJ spokesman said.

As reported by Reuters, the UDJ statement added, “If there is no positive response from the ruling regime, we shall go to court with the millions of signatures in our hands.”

Of all nations with laws countering the publishing of government corruption, Ethiopia comes out of top with the most exiled journalists.

According to Reuters, under the anti-terrorism law, more than 10 journalists have been hit with charges. The government continues to support the implementation of the law saying it is necessary to keep an upper hand on Eritrean rebel groups.

Prior to Ethiopia’s 2005 elections, opposition groups spoke out more freely. Though due to government harassment and inaction of policies that benefit Ethiopian citizens, opposition parties have been forced to remain quite, Reuters reported.