Friday, October 13, 2006

ION update: 10/13/06

Internal opposition in a fray
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1198 14/10/2006

While the leadership of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) in the Diaspora is paralysed by a deep internal crisis (ION 1197), the situation is no better for the opposition within Ethiopia itself. Two of its leaders still free, former members of the United Ethiopian Democratic Force (UEDF), are pulling in different directions. Merera Gudina of the Oromo National Congress (ONC) and Beyene Petros of the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Coalition (SEPDC) no longer have the same political approach. According to sources close to the government, Merera Gudina has tried to persuade Beyene Petros to campaign with him to put the freeing of the imprisoned opposition leaders into a central place on the agenda of the new parliamentary session. Beyene Petros and Bulcha Demeksa are believed not to have accepted to follow Merera Gudina on this path, whereas Lidetu Ayalew is reported to not even have been contacted. Since then, the Ethiopian government has stepped up the pressure on Merera Gudina, with measures including freezing his personal bank account. For their part, some EPRDF newspapers have accused Merera Gudina and several CUDP MPs who accepted to take up their seat in Parliament of having plotted to “disrupt the work of Parliament”. However, according to a source close to Mereru Gudina, the latter’s disagreement with Beyene Petros broke out when the latter asked him to publish on behalf of the internal wing of the UEDF, a joint communiqué denouncing the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP, radical faction of the UEDF, influential among the Ethiopian Diaspora). Merera Gudina refused and Beyene Petros finally released the communiqué in the name of the SEPDC alone.

The difficult profession of journalist
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1198 14/10/2006

After a first spate of Ethiopian journalists from the independent press leaving the country, it is now the turn of those working for the State media to scarper. Ezedine Kedir, who worked for the Ethiopian government television station, has just set up home in Germany. This brings the number of journalists from government media defecting up to sixteen. According to information we have received, Alemneh Wassie, who worked for Radio Fana owned by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has also left the country with his family to settle in Israel. Journalists in government media who are reluctant to apply the orders of the authorities in Addis Ababa sometimes receive death threats, pushing them to leave the country.