News: Members, leaders of opposition groups arrested in Mekelle ahead of planned protest rally

Kidane Amene (left) and Tesfamichael Nigus, top leaders of the National Congress of Great Tigray or Baytona (Photo: National Congress of Great Tigray)

Addis Abeba – Police in the Tigray region have arrested opposition party leaders Kidane Amene and Tesfamichael Nigus, who are the top leaders of the National Congress of Great Tigray (Baytona) and coordinators of the protest scheduled for tomorrow.

The Tigray Independent Party, Salsay Weyane, and Baytona announced last week that they would be holding a protest to draw attention to the current situation in Tigray, with a particular focus on the implementation of the Pretoria agreement following the peace deal signed between the federal government and forces in Tigray. However, the regional police denied permission for the protest, which was supposed to take place in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, on 7 September, 2023. The police claimed that there were insufficient security forces available to ensure the safety of the protest.

The arrest of Kidane and Tesfamichael follows the release of Dejen Mezgebe, chairperson of the Tigray Independent Party; Hayalu Godifay, chairperson of Salsay Weyane; and Kibrom Berehe, another top leader of Baytona. These three individuals were detained for three hours at the Kedamay Weyane police station while demanding the release of members of opposition parties who had been arrested the previous day.

As tensions increased, Kidane and Tesfamichael were arrested early this morning by regional police while they were on the street near their office after a meeting about the protest, according to Alemseged Aregay, deputy chairperson and head of foreign affairs for the Tigray Independent Party.

Alemseged stated that the protest, which aims to advocate for justice, peace, and security in Tigray, the return of internally displaced persons to their hometowns, the certification and rehabilitation of ex-fighters, and the establishment of an inclusive administration, is a peaceful one. He also mentioned that six members of the three opposition parties and six other drivers involved in organizing the protest were detained yesterday, along with their materials.

Opposition leaders informed Addis Standard that the Tigray interim administration is actively intimidating individuals who are expected to participate in the protest. Despite attempts, Addis Standard was unable to obtain a comment from the Tigray police regarding the situation. AS

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