Ethiopian opposition figure shot dead


A prominent Ethiopian opposition official from the sensitive Oromia region was found shot dead on Wednesday, April 10, a few hours after being arrested by government forces, his party said.

Bate Urgessa of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) party was released on bail last month following his detention alongside French journalist Antoine Galindo.

The 41-year-old was arrested again late on Tuesday, April 9, by “government armed forces” at a hotel in the town of Meki, 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa, OLF spokesperson Lemi Gemechu told AFP.

“He was then briefly taken to a detention centre in the city,” Lemi said.

“Bate’s family confirmed that he was found dead on a road in a place called Melissa, on the outskirts of Meki town,” he said, adding that he had been shot.

The body was found on Wednesday morning, he said, adding that they could not tell if the forces who arrested Bate were from the federal or regional government.

There was no immediate comment from the federal government but the regional authorities said attempts to blame it for the “assassination” were not acceptable.

“The Oromia Regional State strongly condemns the killing of Bate Urgessa, which was carried out by an unidentified body,” it said on its official Facebook page.

OLF, which considers itself the mouthpiece of the populous Oromo people, said in a statement that it had learnt about the death “with agony and grave sadness”.

“The unwarranted and extrajudicial killing of conscious and active Oromo political and cultural figures has been a systematic and irresponsible act of silencing the Oromo throughout years and decades,” it said.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) — an independent state-affiliated body — on Wednesday urged both the regional and central governments to conduct a “prompt, impartial and full investigation” into Bate’s killing.

“Hold perpetrators to account,” EHRC chief commissioner Daniel Bekele said on X, formerly Twitter. Human Rights Watch also made similar appeals.

Bate had been held in Ethiopian prisons on several occasions. On February 22, he was arrested in Addis Ababa in the company of Galindo, a journalist with the specialist publication Africa Intelligence.

The two men were accused of conspiring “to create chaos” in the country. Bate was released on March 6, a week after Galindo.

In 2022, he had been released on health grounds after a year in detention.


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