Ethiopia arrests former Tigray interim government officials


NAIROBI, Oct. 2 (Reuters) – A former senior official of an interim government for the Tigray region of Ethiopia appeared in court on Saturday on charges of inciting a conflict between the Tigraan people and the central government and of possessing an illegal weapon Attorney.

In November 2020, war broke out in the northern Tigray region between the federal government and forces allied with the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Soon after, the federal government seized the capital of Tigray and appointed an interim administration for Tigray.

Abraha Desta served in this federally appointed administration as head of the Tigray Office for Social Affairs. He was previously a member of the Tigrayan opposition party Arena, which opposed the TPLF, and had spent three years in prison under the former TPLF-led government. He is the senior interim administration official who was arrested.

Abraha held his position until the end of June when Tigrayan’s troops retook most of Tigray and headed for the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

He was arrested there on Thursday, the day after he posted an open letter on Facebook to the new Mayor of Addis Ababa denouncing the alleged arbitrary arrests of ethnic Tigrayans and increasing discrimination.

A Reuters investigation earlier this year found that Ethiopian police arrested hundreds of ethnic Tigrayans in Addis Ababa without charge. Police at the time denied that suspects were targeted because of their ethnicity. Continue reading

Abraha was detained for nine days on Saturday, said his lawyer, who told Reuters not to reveal his name.

Neither the federal police spokesman, Jeylan Abdi, nor the attorney general spokesman, Awol Sultan, were immediately available for comment.

The international criticism of the conditions in Tigray has increased, the UN warns hundreds of thousands of people of a famine. All parties fighting in northern Ethiopia face sanctions from the US government.

Reporting by Ayenat Mersie Editing by Peter Graff

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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