Addis Abeba – The newly established Gurage opposition political party, Gurage Unity and Justice Party (GOGOT) has said security forces detained 12 leaders and officials of the party on Monday as part of continued pressure from the government since its establishment.
The party received its temporary license from the Ethiopian National Election Board (NEBE) only three months ago.
Mohammed Abrar, the party’s organizing committee head, told Addis Standard on Tuesday, that out of the 12 leaders and officials, 10 have been released while Yonathan Solomon and Remedan Nurgeta still remain behind bars and they have not yet appeared in court.
According to Mohammed the leaders and officials were arrested while they were returning home after attending the party’s general assembly which was held yesterday at Wabi Shebele Hotel in Addis Abeba.
Despite having been recently established, the party’s organizing committee head said the party’s members and leaders are facing harassment and intimidation by security forces, limiting their political activities.
Gurage zone, the party’s home base including its capital Wolkite city, has been under a command post since November last year following consecutive stay-at-home protests as part of the zone’s push for its own statehood, which the Gurage Unity and Justice Party (GOGOT) said it would struggle to realize.
Security forces in the zone have recently arrested more than 15 community leaders, youth activists and senior government officials which residents say is “because they peacefully struggled for the rights of the Gurage people”.
On 15 February, security forces killed six people in Wolkite city, while more than 15 were seriously injured after security forces opened fire on protesters who were demonstrating against lack of fresh water, carrying empty jerry cans.
Residents of the zone have long complained against heavy-handed measures by regional and federal security forces to contain their continued protests against government-backed clustering of the zone into a new region together with four other zones and a special district. AS