Editors Note: The food aid which is being given to the hungray people in Ethiopia based on their poltical inclination and support to the ruling party(TPLF/EPRDF) has worsened to a scale where those who unleashed the truth and the opposition leaders are being arrested.DebreBirhan wishes to admire the leaders of Arena Party for their courage in telling the truth about food aid.
December 26, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia’s biggest opposition coalition, Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD-MEDREK), who accused government of obstructing foreign aid on Saturday said that its members are being arrested for speaking-out on the alleged aid abuse.
Last month, the opposition group accused Prime minister Meles Zenawi-led government of politicizing foreign-funded humanitarian assistance, using it as a weapon to retain power in next year’s election.
The accusation said that its members are routinely being denied access to foreign aid and now alleges that government is harassing its members to silence their claim.
“Now three days, seven of our members from the northern Tigray region are being secretly held in the capital Addis Ababa and in Desse town” Asrat Abraham, public relations of an opposition within the coalition, Arena Tigray told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.
“They were held by secret agents after the members in person reported regional aid abuse situation to party leaders and to aid organizations in Addis Ababa,” Asrat added.
The opposition official who he said hardly managed to speak to one of the held opposition members said that the arrests were in retaliation to the allegation by the opposition members.
“You have backed and reported false allegation on the regional aid system. You won’t be released unless you officially retract your reports in a media outlet” Asrat said as was told by one of the arrested members.
Attempts to verify from a government body didn’t work at the moment.
The ruling EPRDF party has denied only allowing its members to be embraced in country’s food-for-work scheme, the productive safety net program to gain support.
Last month, Ethiopia State Minister for Disaster Management and Food Security Mitiku Kasa, has blasted the allegation saying totally “baseless allegation”.
“Government has no intention to discriminate against the poor based on such grounds. After all, it is the community that is mandated to select who should be involved in the programme,” Mituku said.
“The programme targets the community and government doesn’t get involved in the selection process. It has nothing to do with politics or political ideology. It’s all absolutely owned by the community. It is the community that has a say in this programme,” he said.
There is no separate confirmation yet to support the opposition allegation but some foreign aid organizations in the country are now saying that they will launch a probe into how foreign humanitarian relief supplies are delivered.
Currently Some 7 million Ethiopians heavily rely on the Productive Safety Net Program.