Ethiopian Opposition Leader Bate Urgessa of OLF Fatally Shot, Dumped by Roadside

Ethiopian Opposition Leader Bate Urgessa of OLF Fatally Shot
Bate Urgessa was a senior official of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)

Ethiopian Opposition Leader Bate Urgessa of OLF Fatally Shot, Dumped by Roadside

The tragic killing of prominent Ethiopian opposition figure Bate Urgessa has sent shockwaves through the country, particularly in his hometown of Meki in the Oromia region, where his body was discovered on the side of a road. Urgessa, aged 41, was a vocal critic of the government and had faced imprisonment multiple times in the past.

According to reports from family members cited by local news outlet Addis Standard, individuals resembling government security forces forcibly took Urgessa from his hotel room on Tuesday night before his body was found. However, the Oromia regional government has denied any involvement of security forces in the incident.

Urgessa was a high-ranking official of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a significant political party in Ethiopia. The OLF strongly condemned his “brutal murder,” describing him as an “eloquent, brave, and selfless Oromo soul.” The organization highlighted a pattern of targeted killings of Oromo political and cultural figures, characterizing it as a systematic effort to silence the Oromo community.

His untimely death has sparked outrage on social media platforms, with human rights groups demanding accountability and justice. Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), emphasized the need for federal authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable.

The town of Meki is currently facing communication disruptions, raising concerns about potential protests in response to Urgessa’s killing. Despite his history of imprisonment, Urgessa remained an advocate for non-violent dissent. In February, he was arrested on accusations of inciting unrest but was later released on bail.

The OLF, which boycotted the last general election in 2021 citing limited political space, has accused the government of targeting its members and leaders through arrests and other forms of repression. The Oromo ethnic group, the largest in Ethiopia, has long faced allegations of discrimination from the country’s traditional ruling class.

Although the OLF disarmed in 2018 following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ascension to power, the organization has grown disillusioned with his leadership in recent years. Urgessa’s killing serves as a grim reminder of the ongoing political tensions and violence plaguing Ethiopia, particularly within the context of ethnic divisions and grievances.

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