By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 21, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia’s biggest coalition of opposition parties, the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (Medrek), has condemned a judicial agreement signed between Ethiopia and Sudan.
Last Wednesday, the two East African neighbours signed an agreement on the extradition of criminals intending to jointly battle crime, to enhance regional peace and promote justice in general.
Ethiopian opposition politicians, however, doubt the new agreement is meant to only fight criminals and argue could have another hidden agenda.
Merara Gudina, the Medrek chairman and member of the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC), told Sudan Tribune on Monday that the convicts exchange agreement between Khartoum and Addis Ababa could be a special arrangement to prosecute political refugees.
According to Gudina, the fresh judiciary accord is a cover to hand over exiled opposition politicians.
“In countries like Ethiopia where there is a dictatorial rule, being an opposition member is considered as being a criminal”, the opposition official told Sudan Tribune.
He further said the agreement, if sued to target political refugees, will eventually ruin ties of the two people and would leave a “dark spot” on the history of the two countries.
A considerable number of Ethiopian opposition members sought refuge in Sudan after the 2005 election when post-election violence led to the killing of over 200 street protesters and to the arrest of hundreds of supporters and dozens of opposition figures.
Earlier this year, an exiled Ethiopian human rights group, the Berlin-based Solidarity Committee for Ethiopian Political Prisoners (SOCEPP), accused the Sudanese government of further intensifying a crackdown against Ethiopian political refugees.
The group then alleged that Sudanese police have raided houses and rounded up dozens of Ethiopians in Omdurman and many parts of the capital, Khartoum, for forcible deportation.
Last year, SCOEPP similarly accused Sudanese authorities of deporting former Ethiopian opposition politician, Andualem Alemayo, from Khartoum’s Kober prison, after he entered the country from neighbouring Eritrea.
The group has repeatedly urged the Khartoum government to refrain from forcibly deporting Ethiopian political refugees arguing they would risk prosecution back home by the government in Addis Ababa.
The latest accord between Sudan and Ethiopia comes following another security agreement signed last December between the two countries not to harbour rebel figures or host each other’s rebel forces in their territory – an agreement aimed to enhance border security of the two countries and cripple any attempt of subversive and military activities of rebel groups on both sides.