Africa News blog
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Ethiopia’s opposition UDJ party, completely wiped out at last year’s disputed election, says it is regrouping.
At a recent news conference, it announced it plans to rebuild its depleted ranks with young people, analyse the mistakes of the past and ensure that it’s never again hampered by a lack of leadership.
But that last one is going to be pretty difficult. The absence of Birtukan Mideksa, its charismatic former leader who was freed last October after a near two-year stint in jail, was all too visible to ignore.
After a visit to South Africa earlier this year, party chiefs say she is now on her way to the United States for “psychological treatment.”
Six Ethiopian opposition parties have joined forces to go up against the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in next year’s parliamentary elections, but their chances of bringing change look slim at best and they complain of heavy-handed tactics by the ruling party.
The foremost opposition figure in Africa’s second most populous country, Birtukan Mideksa, a 34-year-old former judge, has been in solitary confinement since December. She was jailed after the first democratic poll in 2005, which ended in rioting that was bloodily suppressed, was pardoned in 2007 and rearrested last year after renouncing the terms of her pardon.