May 26, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia’s biggest opposition, Unity for Democracy and Justice party (UDJ) on Tuesday accused the government of obstructing its constitutional rights and preventing from conducting a peaceful political meeting.
Hailu Araya , vice president and person in charge of public relation to the party told Sudan Tribune that the UDJ is forced to cancel a public meeting it called for May 31,which was planned to be held at Addis Ababa’s Meskel square.
“This is one of the ruling party’s deliberate games aimed to weaken our political role in the country” Hailu said
“We are deprived of our constitutional rights to demonstrate a peaceful public political meeting.”
According to Hailu , the party was forced to cancel its public meeting after the Addis Ababa city administration rejected their request for public meeting, notifying them that the party can only hold meetings in halls
Originally, the party had plans to conduct the public meeting on May 23 but it was later compelled to hold the meeting at Meskel square as it found difficult to carry it out in halls, permitted by government for such events.
“Some owners of the halls demanded permission from the city administration, others agree now and change their minds later,” he said adding “city administration is behind all this.”
“The Ethiopian government once again is blocking our bridge with our supporters making it impossible to campaign for the coming national election,” he further said
Ethiopia will hold national elections in June 2010.
The opposition group strongly argues that the political space in the horn of Africa’s nation more than ever is narrowing.
“That little democracy the nation had is fading; democracy in Ethiopia is endangered,” Hailu stressed.
“Two days ago our member was arrested in southern Ethiopia.”
In Amhara region’s eastern Gojam zone our three offices are made closed, Hailu added.
Despite all these difficulties the party is claiming to have been facing, it has vowed to further scale up its peace full struggle.
It has called up on the ruling party to accept multi-party democracy.
Recently, the Ethiopian government promised that it will run a fair, democratic, non-violent 2010 election. But the opposition says that the promises are same old games that won’t jump beyond words.