The chairman of the Ethiopian Federalist Democratic Unity Forum, an opposition coalition known popularly as Medrek, told reporters on Thursday he believes that the recent death of a 9th-grade student in Black Lion Hospital was due to a beating the activist received in his hometown of Mida-Qanyi on April 9 by government security officers.
Professor Beyene Petros told a press conference that Biyansa Dhibba Gaddisa died of wounds he received when struck with the butt of a gun when uniformed militia broke into his home in Oromiya’s western Shoa zone. Petros said Biyansa was an active member of the Oromo Congress Party and that local government agents had previously threatened him for his political activities.Petros and Oromo Congress Party representative in Parliament Oblana Lelisa demanded an independent investigation of the cause of Biyansa’s death.
Government Communications State Minister Shimelis Kemal replied to VOA’s Addis correspondent, Peter Heinlein, that Biyansa was an EPRDF member who had not been beaten, but had died of complications from malaria and typhoid.Shimelis said Petros’ description of an attack on Biyansa was “the biggest lie we have heard”.
A spokeswoman for the European Union’s team of monitors of the May 23 election told Heinlein that they are following the inquiry into Biyansa's death, and would publish its findings in its final report after the election.
During the Medrek press conference, Horn of Africa’s Eskinder Firew reports that Petros also accused the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front of exposing opposition candidates to death threats, imprisonment and torture in the lead-up to the national election for seats in the federal parliament and regional zone councils.Opposition leaders continue to claim that the stabbing death of a parliamentary candidate in Tigray region was politically motivated.
Petros also said EPRDF officials are passing out forms for voters to sign promising to vote for EPRDF candidates.And he criticized the EU election observers for being too small a team, too late to get started and for not seeking out the views of Medrek officials and candidates. "Even if it is to be fair, the 150-member team is like a drop of water in an ocean. It cannot cover the vast election areas".
Listen to the Amharic report on the press conference by Eskinder Firew.
Listen to the Afan Oromo Report.
Listen to the English report on the press conference.