By Staff

Despite harassment from the EPRDF ruling party, the Ethiopian opposition coalition party “Medrek” held successful meetings in Hawassa and Adama. Meanwhile, the former Medrek member, the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party, also held several demonstrations, including in Dessie and Bahir Dar cities.

According to witnesses, several thousand people attended the Medrek meetings to learn more about the political manifesto and direction of the party. Hawassa is the capital city of the southern SNNPR region, mostly occupied by the Sidama, hadiya and Wolayta ethnic groups. Medrek officials said attendees “expressed confidence that the party can lead Ethiopia and replace the ruling EPRDF minority regime.”

Medrek held other meetings throughout the country, including in Mekelle city of Tigray. Medrek said its officials including Bekele Gabisso, Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa are still in prison.

Medrek is made up of six opposition parties which previously included the UDJ. But Medrek kicked out UDJ earlier this year because UDJ opposed the “self-determination upto secession” ideology and because UDJ started campaigning inside rural Oromia, where Medrek’s OFDM and OPC have stronghold. After the divorce of UDJ and Medrek, Dr Negasso Gidada resigned from the leadership of UDJ saying “I oppose secession but i support the right to secession.”

UDJ has a strong support among the Amhara and Gurage ethnic groups as well as among ethnic Ethiopians (the mixed population) nationwide. Meanwhile, Medrek has strong support among Oromos, Sidama and other ethnic groups in SNNPR region. However, UDJ is said to be in financially stronger position due to having a united Diaspora support which it accumulated during the 2005 election when it ran as CUD.