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Abiy Ahmed (left) and Dr. Berhanu Nega (right) ( Photo : file/SM)


Dr, Berhanu Nega, leader of the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party (EZEMA), is getting a new wave of criticism over his latest remark during an event organized by his party. The event was organized with the theme “politics means…”

According to Ethiopian News sources, video recording during the event was prohibited. However, a video footage purportedly recorded secretly revealed that Dr. Berhanu Nega condones the demolition of houses in Sheger City – where hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians are said to have been reduced to homelessness after their houses were demolished by the Oromia regional government.

“We would have done the same thing if we were in power, ” is what he reportedly said during the political event in his party.  He justified his position with the “We should not encourage illegal practice” statement. There was no legal process whereby the hundreds of thousands of demolished houses were illegal. The decision was an administrative one and it was politically motivated. Clearly, strange stand for Dr. Berhanu as someone who claims to lead a party committed for social justice.

It is public knowledge that most of the citizens whose houses have been demolished spent fortunes to build their residential homes and lived in the area. They have been paying taxes, and getting social services including electricity and water supply from the government.

He thinks the demolition is in the interest of Ethiopia, based on the report from Ethiopian News Sources based in the Diaspora.

There was also an allegation that the demolition was politically motivated in that it mostly targeted ethnic Amharas.

Berhanu Nega, while being the leader of the opposition, is a member of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s cabinet with an Education Minister portfolio.

Last week, he was appointed as Chancellor of Addis Ababa University. While Dr. Berhanu is credited with bringing some changes to the education sector in the direction of overcoming quality of education problems in the country, he has been increasingly behaving more like a member of Abiy Ahmed’s ruling party rather than the leader of the major opposition parties in Ethiopia.

Recently, more than 200 members of the Ethiopian Citizens For Social Justice Party , including many leaders, left the party on political grounds.

Whether Dr. Berhanu’s justification of  Oromia regional state’s demolition project in Shegar City is his own personal stand or party position; it remains unknown.

EZEMA party, at this writing, did not release a statement clarifying the matter. The anger from many Ethiopian politicians and activists alike it noticeable.

Dr. Berhanu Nega was one of the few Ethiopian politicians with strong influence in the Diaspora Ethiopian Community. He was known to have distaste, at least on the surface, for ethnic politics in Ethiopia. His recent moves with the Prosperity Party and even with the Oromia regional state have clearly cast doubt as to what political values he truly represents.


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