Ethiopia Says It Arrested ‘coup plotters’

Above: Berhanu Nega, an Ethiopian-American economics
professor at Bucknell University, who was elected mayor of
Addis Ababa in 2005, celebrates at his parents’ Addis Ababa
home after his pardon and release from prison, Friday, July 20,
2007. All arrested are members of an opposition group based
outside Ethiopia and led by the professor. (Photo: AP).

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Ethiopian government has arrested 35 people suspected of a coup attempt allegedly backed by an Ethiopian-American economist now teaching at a Pennsylvania university, an Ethiopian government spokesman said Saturday. Read more.

By Elizabeth Blunt
BBC News, Addis Ababa

Ethiopia’s authorities say they have arrested 35 people who were allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. All are said to be members of Ginbot 7 (May the 15th), an opposition group based outside Ethiopia and led by the self-exiled politician Berhanu Nega. The Ethiopian government say the people arrested in Friday’s raids fall into two groups: some were soldiers and others civil servants. A government spokesman said they would be charged in court early next week. Read more.

Related: Bucknell University Faculty Stories

Berhanu Nega

Just over a year ago, Berhanu Nega was locked in an Ethiopian jail. Now he is returning to Bucknell to re-join the economics department.

Nega was an economics professor at Bucknell from 1990 until 1994, when he returned to his native Ethiopia to join the Department of Economics at Addis Ababa University. He established and directed the Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Organization, the first such independent research institute in Ethiopia.

He eventually became a leader in the democratic opposition in Ethiopia, serving as deputy chairman for the Coalition for Unity and Democracy. In 2005, he became the first elected mayor in Ethiopia’s history after winning more than 75 percent of the vote for mayor of Addis Ababa.

The ruling party, however, declared victory in races throughout the country and arrested Nega and other opposition leaders on charges of treason.

“Thus ended the Ethiopian democratic experiment that had started with such high hopes, leaving the country in the darkness of totalitarian rule,” Nega said, in a talk on campus in February.

Among Nega’s supporters during his imprisonment were several Bucknell faculty members and President Brian C. Mitchell, who wrote letters calling for his release.

After 20 months in jail, Nega was released in July 2007. He returned to Bucknell as a visiting international scholar in economics in Spring 2008.

Since his release, Nega has urged the United States and other Western nations to back democratic movements in Ethiopia and other African countries by withdrawing support given to dictators in the name of stability.

“The principle of freedom and liberty that you believe in are the natural rights of every human being, wherever they are,” Nega said. “This is the principle that the average American shares with the forces in Ethiopia who have struggled with their sweat and blood to establish political order in their country.”


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