by William Davison
THE leader of a U.S.-based Ethiopian opposition group relocated to Eritrea to organise civil and armed resistance against the government in the capital, Addis Ababa, a movement spokesman said.
Berhanu Nega, a U.S. citizen, travelled to Ethiopia’s northern neighbour following the merger of his Ginbot 7 group with the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front this year, spokesman Tadesse Kersmo said.
Renewed tensions between the Horn of Africa nations, which fought a two-year war that ended in 2000, come before next week’s visit by Barack Obama to Ethiopia, the first by a sitting U.S. president.
“We are following a kind of merged strategy, blending peaceful resistance with non-peaceful resistance,” Tadesse said by phone from London on July 21. Attacks on security installations seek to inspire Ethiopians to engage in non- violent opposition, he said.
Ethiopia has fractious relations with Eritrea, which became independent from its larger neighbour in 1993 after three decades of armed struggle. Sections of the border remain militarised after a failure to implement a 2002 United Nations ruling that awarded disputed territory to Eritrea. Both governments back insurgencies against each other.
Sporadic attacks by anti-government militants haven’t stopped Ethiopia’s economic growth, which is forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to exceed an annual rate of 8% over the next two years.
Ethiopia’s government classes Ginbot 7 as a terrorist group and has sentenced Berhanu to death in absentia.