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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Ethiopian court jails prominent opposition figure for contempt

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- An Ethiopian court on Thursday sentenced Bekele Gerba, former deputy head of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), to six months in jail for contempt of court.

The Ethiopia Federal High Court jailed Gerba along with three others who were given similar sentence on the same charge.

Local media Radio Fana said the defendants were given the sentences after vocally objecting to the court’s decision to reject a defense request compelling senior government officials to testify as witnesses.

Gerba has been in jail for about two years over terrorism charges relating to allegations of instigating unrest in Ethiopia’s largest regional state Oromia.

OFC is the main opposition party to the ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in the restive central Oromia regional state.

Oromia has seen large anti-government protests by ethnic Oromos since the end of 2015, leaving hundreds of dead.

A martial law declared in October 2016 was lifted in August in 2017, but deadly protests renewed starting October in Oromia. Release of Oromo opposition leaders, including Gerba, was among demands posed by the protesters.

Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group making up a third of the country’s population of 100 million, have complained of decades of economic, political and social marginalization by successive governments.

             

 

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