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Ethiopia’s biggest opposition party in turmoil

Ethiopia’s biggest opposition party in turmoil

Posted in July 22nd, 2009

July 21, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — As internal crises engulfs Ethiopia’s biggest opposition party, Unity for Democracy and Justice, the UDJ on Tuesday denied suspending its 21 higher members.

The group led into fresh internal chaos after 21 members of the standing committee members recently circulated a document entitled “abusing power” which accuses leadership of the party of abusing power entrusted to its top leaders.

Dissident members further accused the Executive Committee of squandering money collected from members to run the party.

But, the UDJ Vice-President and public relations, Dr.Hailu Araya, told Sudan Tribune that unlike their claim, the real intention behind their move is not a question of power abuse it is rather aims to object plans to join a new opposition coalition, MEDREK.

“Their allegation is unsubstantiated, unlawful and defamatory,” Araya said.

The party’s top leadership, the sixty members’ National Council, has held an urgent meeting to solve the crises that led two factions to compete on controlling the party’s direction.

“The case of the 21 members is led to a disciplinary committee for proper measures but no decision is yet taken and none of them are suspended.”

However, the opposition leader admits that only one among the 21 is being excluded from the UDJ for reasons that he had repeated disciplinary records.

Ethiopia would hold general elections in 2010. Internal divisions within the country’s biggest opposition party could send negative signals to supporters, observers say. But the opposition official downplayed the ongoing differences, saying it was only a complaint that didn’t follow through the party’s proper channel.

“Such minor differences or misunderstandings could happen to any party at any time” Hailu said, adding “We do not want our people to misconceive the situation. What has happened doesn’t represent at all major differences of opinion among party members”

Some Dissident members complain that after the detention of the UDJ chairman, Birtukan Midekssa, the acting president, Gizachew Shiferaw, has failed to run the party effectively. Also other people complain further that the current leadership does not take in account the points of view expressed by the members.

UDJ is currently in an effort to form a strong alliance with members of the Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD) to bring a strong political role in the nation.

The forum was first initiated by the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), the Somali Democratic Alliance forces (SDAF), Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty (Arena) groups and two former ruling party senior officials, ex-president Dr. Negaso Gidada and former defense minister Seye Aberha.

Ethiopian TPLF authorities re-arrested UDJ leader Birtukan Mideksa last year after refusing to acknowledge that she had requested a pardon that led to her release from jail in July 2007.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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