Ethiopian court grants bail to prominent Oromo opposition politician

Political Prisoner Bekele Gerba, Photo Addis Standard

ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — The Ethiopia Federal High Court fourth criminal bench on Monday granted bail for deputy chairman of opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Bekele Gerba, who has been in prison for nearly two years.

OFC is the main opposition party to the ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in the restive central Oromia regional state.

The court approved a 1,110 U.S. dollar bail for Gerba, who is facing terrorism charges, with the charges to be heard with him being outside prison provided he meet the bail requirements.

Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest regional state, has seen large anti-government protests by ethnic Oromos since the end of 2015, leaving hundreds of dead.

A martial law declared in October 2016 was lifted in August, but deadly anti-government protests renewed earlier this month in Oromia regional state. Release of prominent Oromo opposition leaders, including Gerba, was among demands posed by the protesters.

Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group making up a third of the country’s estimated population of 100 million, complain of decades of economic, political and social marginalization by successive governments.

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