Medrek to decide on party’s fate

(Ethiopian Reporter Newspaper) The Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum a.k.a. Medrek – the largest opposition party in the country – has called an extraordinary meeting to decide over the party’s fate alleging that “opposition politics is becoming a crime”.
Leadership and members of the party, numbering about 80, will convene for two days as of today at the party’s headquarters in what would be the first post 2015 general election meeting.
The party has been alleging killings, arrests, intimidation and persecution of its members and supporters in the aftermath of the latest election in which the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its affiliates won 100 percent of all regional and parliamentary seats.
“The constitution and other laws allow for peaceful political struggles but in reality taking part in opposition politics has become a criminal act,” Tilahun Endeshaw, public relations head of the party, told The Reporter.
According to the public relations head, the party will assess the way forward for Medrek as well as whether the current political space in the country allows for peaceful political struggle.
“I cannot predict what the outcome of the two-day meeting would be. We may decide to change how we operate in the peaceful struggle or abandon it altogether,” Tilahun said.
In a press release sent to The Reporter, the party has alleged that over 1,000 farmers who supported the party have been denied fertilizers, some 5,800 have been illegally evicted from their houses and listed the names 14 supporters of the party who are being denied of any public service.
In the immediate aftermath of the fifth general election held in May, the party has alleged that five members of the party have been killed in what the party says are politically motivated.
“Despite our appeals to government offices, no one has been held accountable for these actions,” Tilahun said.
The Reporter’s attempt to get a response from the government on these allegations was unsuccessful.
Medrek is a coalition of four parties including Oromo Federalist Congress, Union of Tigrayans for Democracy and Sovereignty a.k.a. Arena, Sidama Liberation Movement and the Ethiopian Social Democracy-Southern Ethiopia Peoples Democratic Union.
In the May elections, Medrek was the party which fielded the most number of candidates from opposition parties – 303 candidates for federal parliament and 883 for regional council seats. Although the votes did not translate into seats in parliament or regional council, the party won 64.3 percent of the votes (over one million) that went to the opposition.

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