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Bate Urgessa: Ethiopian opposition OLF figure shot dead and dumped by road

Bate Urgessa was a senior official of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)

By Kalkidan Yibeltal

A top Ethiopian opposition figure has been shot dead and his body found on the side of a road in his hometown in Meki, in the troubled Oromia region.

Bate Urgessa, 41, was an outspoken critic of the government and had been jailed on several occasions.

Family members told local news site, Addis Standard, people who “looked like government security forces” took him from his hotel room on Tuesday night.

The Oromia regional government denied that security forces were involved.

In recent years Ethiopia has seen an increase in the killing of political and cultural figures.

Mr Bate was a senior official of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) – one of the biggest political parties in Ethiopia.

The OLF condemned the “brutal murder” of Mr Bate and said he was a “eloquent, brave and selfless Oromo soul”.

“The unwarranted and extrajudicial killing of conscious and active Oromo political and cultural figures has been a systematic and irresponsible act of silencing the Oromo throughout years and decades,” the statement said.

His death has sparked outraged across social media, while human rights groups are demanding justice.

Chief commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Daniel Bekele posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the federal authorities need “to hold perpetrators to account”.

Phone lines are cut off in the town but it is unclear if the killing of Mr Bate will trigger protests.

Mr Bate has been jailed several times in recent years, but has remained an advocate of non-violent dissent.

In February security forces accused him of “working to incite unrest.” He was arrested while being interviewed by French journalist Antoine Galindo and later released on bail.

Galindo was released after a week in jail and returned to Paris.

The OLF boycotted the last general election, in 2021, saying the political space was too narrow to operate.

At the time it accused the government of arresting several of its members, supporters and leaders.

The Oromo ethnic group is the largest in Ethiopia but some of its leaders say they have suffered discrimination from the country’s traditional elites.

The OLF used to be an armed group but laid down its weapons in 2018 after Abiy Ahmed, an ethnic Oromo, became prime minister.

However, the OLF has since become disillusioned with Mr Abiy.

Source: BBC

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