(Bloomberg) — Ethiopian authorities charged an opposition party leader and seven other people with terrorism following violent protests that erupted in the capital earlier this year after the killing of a musician.
Eskinder Nega, the leader of the Balderas for Genuine Democracy party, was accused of inciting clashes and seeking to overthrow the government through violent means, according to his lawyer, Henok Aklilu. Four other members of Balderas are among those charged, he said.
“I believe this is politically motivated,” Henok said by phone Thursday. The charges were reported earlier by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corp.
Authorities arrested more than 9,000 people during the protests in Addis Ababa, which were sparked by the assassination of Haacaalu Hundeessa on June 29. The singer-songwriter was a popular voice during protests by the Oromo, Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, for reforms in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front that led to the appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in 2018.
Eskinder was sentenced to 18 years in prison on terrorism charges under former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, but was released after seven years when Abiy came to power.
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