Ethiopian Opposition Activist Shot Dead in Oromiya; Third Killing in Week

An activist campaigning for Ethiopia’s opposition Medrek alliance was shot dead in a rural part of Oromiya, the third killing in a week in the southwestern region ahead of elections on May 23.

Girma Kabe was killed on May 4 in the North Shewa district, Negasso Gidada, a Medrek official, said in a mobile-phone interview today.

“He was posting posters in daylight and he was shot,” Negasso said. “Our people say it was a deliberate political killing.”

Tensions have been rising in Oromiya ahead of this month’s vote. On May 7, two people were killed in southern Oromiya when an unidentified person threw a hand grenade at a meeting celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, which support’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The man who killed Girma may be a member of a militia loyal to Meles’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, said Merara Gudina, a leader of Medrek’s ethnic Oromo wing. The EPRDF said Girma was involved in a personal dispute and was a supporter of Meles’s party, which has ruled the Horn of Africa country for the past 19 years.

“He was not killed by our security and our militia,” said Zelalem Jamanie, an executive committee member of the EPRDF’s ethnic Oromo wing, when reached on his mobile phone today. “The person who killed him, he has his own private gun. There is some problem between them.”

Oromos are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, though national politics in the country has been dominated for more than a century by politicians and feudal lords from the smaller Amhara and Tigrayan ethnic groups.

Security forces loyal to Meles killed at least 193 people in the aftermath of Ethiopia’s disputed 2005 elections. Medrek leader Birtukan Mideksa remains in jail under a life sentence after being charged with treason following that poll.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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