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Former Ethiopian minister arrested for links with Oromo rebels

Former Ethiopian minister arrested for links with Oromo rebels
An asylum seeker claiming to be from the Democratic Republic of Congo is arrested   -  
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Paul Chiasson/AP


Ethiopian police announced the arrest on Tuesday of a former minister accused of "collaborating" with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels.

Taye Dendea, former Minister Delegate for Peace, had posted on his Facebook account on Monday a letter from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, informing him of his ouster from the government.

On Tuesday, the federal police issued a statement announcing the minister's arrest for "collaboration with forces opposed to peace and who want to destroy Ethiopia".

In the past, the minister has been a fervent supporter of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, but he had recently been critical of the government, particularly its economic policy and the ongoing violence in the Oromia region, which surrounds the capital Addis Ababa and is home to around a third of the 120 million inhabitants of Africa's 2nd most populous country.

In its statement published on Facebook, the police published photos of weapons, rebel flags, license plates, and cell phones, all found at the minister's home and all part of a "plan to destabilize the country", according to the authorities.

An OLA member "who used three different identities was also found hiding in (the minister's) residence and was arrested", the police added.

Classified as a "terrorist organization" by Addis Ababa, the OLA has been fighting the Ethiopian authorities since its split with the historic Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in 2018, when the latter renounced armed struggle that year when current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power.

At the end of November, the government and the OLF blamed each other for the failure of a second round of talks in Tanzania. More than 50 civilians were killed in attacks in the Oromia region in November, according to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The Oromo region is plagued by multi-faceted violence, making the situation extremely confusing: internal political struggles, territorial disputes, and animosities between communities, combined with the recent development of armed banditry.

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