Ethiopia: Five officials of OPDO jailed accused of inciting strikes

Crossed wrist over the head, sign of protest and defiance against TPLF

by Engidu Woldie

ESAT News (March 7, 2018)

Five officials of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) have reportedly been imprisoned by the Command Post, which has been given the power to execute the state of emergency declared on February 16, 2018.

Their arrest and detention violates their immunity as members of the regional administrative council.

They were accused of inciting the three day “stay-at-home strike” that began on Monday. According to The Reporter, published in Addis Ababa, the Zonal Administrator for East Hararghe, Deputy Administrator for the East Wollega Zone, Mayor of the City of Nekemte as well as Judicial Administrator for the district of Qelem in West Wollega. The report did not mention the officials by name.

The arrest of members of the OPDO, a member of the ruling EPRDF undoubtedly show the deepening division and antagonism with the Tigray People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (TPLF), the dominant group that controls political and economic power, according to observers of the developments.

Leaders of the OPDO have been pushing for reform within the EPRDF and some see them as harboring a dissenting stance against the established TPLF domination.

Meanwhile, the three day strike that begins on Monday continued today in towns in the Oromo region, shutting down businesses and transportations. Towns surrounding the capital Addis Ababa have taken part in the strike disrupting transportations and the flow of goods into the capital.
In a related development, the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa said in a security alert that it has continued to restrict travel for Embassy personnel to areas outside of the capital Addis Ababa.

U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is in Addis Ababa as part of his five country Africa tour.