Government Blocks At Least Ten Journalists from Covering Tigray Elections

By Staff Reporter

Tigray-ElectionsSeptember 7, 2020 ( -- The Ethiopian federal government banned at least ten journalists from covering the controversial elections in the Tigray region by preventing them from flying to the region’s capital.

Members of the security force barred the journalists at Addis Ababa International airport from flying to Mekele city and confiscated their ID, laptops, and video and photo cameras, learned on Monday.

The Ethiopian House of Federation on Saturday declared the planned election in the Tigray regional state and its subsequent results as “null and void.”

According to the house’s resolution, the region’s election scheduled to take place on Wednesday will be considered as if they are not conducted, unjustified and invalid based on Article 9(1) of the constitution.

Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), the Tigray governing party said the vote will go ahead despite pressure from the central government.

According to Facebook posts by those who were barred from flying to Tigray the action appeared intended to prevent coverage of the election.

“We were heading to Tigray to cover the elections, but security officers stopped us at the gate, took our IDs and we were prevented from boarding,” one of the barred journalists posted on Facebook.

Correspondents of some international media outlets including that of AFP left for Mekele ahead of the resolution by the House of Federation.  

Reports have revealed that at least three other journalists received a phone call from Ethiopian authorities over the weekend warning them not to travel to Mekelle.

William Davison, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, was also stopped from flying, it is learned.

Meanwhile, the office of the federal attorney general said it will never release suspects on mediation in violation of ongoing court proceedings.

The office’s remark came after rumors say the government is considering releasing Jawar Mohammed, an activist turned politician, and Bekele Gerba, another prominent Oromo politician who were detained on alleged instigation of violence and leading the religious-based attacks following the death of prominent Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa.

Deputy Attorney General Fikadu Tsega in a statement said it was right to detain people who were allegedly involved in the killing and looting of public properties in daylight.

Critics say if the government releases Jawar Mohammed, it is tantamount to sending messages that “it is right to kill ethnic Amhara and Christians.”

He said the prosecutor has already finalized gathering credible evidence and it will file lawsuits against Jawar Mohammed and Eskinder Nega who are prime suspects for instigating the violence and Tilahun Yami who pleaded guilty for shooting Hachalu Hundessa to death.

According to the deputy attorney general, the court will file a lawsuit against 7000 suspects who were charged for killing more than 200 people and destroying billions of birr worth of properties in Oromia region last July.

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