Girma Seifu: Sole Opposition MP Says Ethiopia Bottling Up Strife

Girma Seifu Maru, Ethiopia's single opposition member of parliament. (Photo credit: Martin Brusewitz)

Reuters

By Edmund Blair

ADDIS ABABA – Girma Seifu Maru, Ethiopia’s sole opposition politician in a 547-seat parliament, says the authorities risk provoking social unrest if they do not offer more political space to critical voices.

The 47-year-old economist and consultant said his party, Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), is pushing for greater openness with a petition against an anti-terror law that critics say is used to stifle dissent, and by a campaign of protests.

But it is an uphill struggle for opponents of the ruling coalition in a nation that Girma said was following China’s model in a bid to drag swathes of its 90 million people, many still subsistence farmers, out of poverty by 2025.

“The Chinese model is that economic development is the primary issue, don’t ask about human rights issues, don’t ask about your freedom, keeping silent on people’s rights so that a few politicians get the economic benefits,” he told Reuters in an interview at a modern hotel, where the imprint of China’s growing influence in Africa was evident on many of the fittings.

But he said the government risked a “violent struggle” if it continued that path until parliamentary elections in 2015.

“That will be a seed they are just giving water to at this time if they don’t change their route and give hope to peaceful activities,” he said in Addis Ababa, adding that his party was committed to change by peaceful means.

Read more at Reuters.com.

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