Wednesday, July 9, 2014 2:44 pm
ADDIS ABABA – An Ethiopian opposition leader sentenced to death in absentia has been paraded on state television proclaiming “peace” with Addis Ababa after his controversial extradition from Yemen.
Andargachew Tsige, a leader of the outlawed Ginbot 7 group who also holds British citizenship, was convicted in absentia in 2009 and 2012 for terrorism.
But Andargachew claimed to be no longer at war with the government and vowed to “calm down.”
“I have found peace… I don’t have any hatred, any anger, no resentment,” he said, appearing on state television with a scruffy grey beard.
Andargachew was arrested on June 23 in Yemen’s Sanaa airport en route to Eritrea, and transferred to Addis Ababa the same day, according to Ethiopia’s state broadcaster, ETV.
Britain’s Foreign Office slammed Yemen for extraditing Andargachew in defiance of international law, and urged Ethiopia to ensure his safety.
“We expect immediate consular access, and requested reassurances that the death penalty imposed in absentia will not be carried out,” Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement.
Ethiopia accuses Andargachew of plotting attacks, according to ETV, and said he was training opposition groups in neighbouring Eritrea, Ethiopia’s long-time foe.
“He was working to hinder the country’s development progress and to destabilise the country,” the broadcast said.
The US-based Ginbot 7 group is considered a terrorist organisation under Ethiopian law.
In 2012, several people were charged for having links to the group, including journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage, who was sentenced to life in prison.
Rights groups have criticised Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law, accusing the government of using it to silence dissent and curb freedom of expression.
Ginbot 7 was founded by Addis Ababa’s former mayor-elect, Berhanu Nega, and calls for the violent overthrow of the ruling party.
Its name commemorates the Ethiopian calendar date — May 15 in the Gregorian calendar — when post-election violence in 2005 left over 200 people dead.