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Ethiopia revokes immunity of detained Amhara party MP

 

Ethiopian lawmakers lifted Thursday the immunity of an opposition MP who has been detained for seven months on accusations of links to an armed group in his Amhara region, the country’s official press agency ENA said.

Christian Tadele, a member of an ethno-nationalist party with five MPs, was arrested last August, a few days after a state of emergency was declared in Amhara — Ethiopia’s second most populous region.

The government imposed the decree after fighting erupted between federal forces and a regional “self-defence” militia called Fano.

The National Amhara Movement (NaMA) MP’s immunity was revoked at a session on Thursday, ENA reported.

Fana Broadcasting Corporate, a state-affiliated channel, said legislators voted by a majority to lift the immunity.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party has more than 95 percent of the seats in the assembly.

Chief Justice Gedeon Temotiwos made the request for the immunity waiver, saying Christian gave instructions to a rebel group in Amhara “that wanted to dismantle the government system by force,” Fana reported.

The Amhara violence reignited concerns about the stability of Ethiopia months after a peace agreement was signed in November 2022 to end a two-year conflict in the neighbouring region of Tigray.

Amhara was caught up in the war, with its regional forces fighting alongside federal government troops against Tigrayan rebels.

The Fano, and other Amharas, felt betrayed by the deal with the dissident leaders of Tigray, longtime foes of Amhara nationalists who claim parts of Ethiopia’s northernmost region as their ancestral lands.

The state of emergency in Amhara was extended in February.

Parliament did not specify how long the state of emergency would now last, but according to the constitution it cannot be extended for more than four months at a time.

The state of emergency is in force throughout Amhara but can also be used against anyone in Ethiopia suspected of involvement in the violence in the region.

Another NaMA lawmaker was arrested in February.

Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have denounced increased repression of divergent view in Ethiopia, a mosaic of more than 80 ethno-linguistic communities and about 120 million people

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