The Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU), including current activities, ethnic base, and relationship with government [ETH33690.E]

According to The Indian Ocean Newsletter,

the Ethiopian government is not making any concessions for opposition formations which have agreed to participate in the general election in May, and most of them are complaining every day of the obstacles the government puts in its way as they try to get their electoral campaigns ready. The Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU) headed by Ras Mengesha Seyoum has let it be known that its attempt to present candidates in the Gojjam region have been carried off after government harassment (15 Jan. 2000).

A review of a book on peasant revolution in Ethiopia published in the Ethiopian Register quotes the book as stating that the EDU, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP), and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) "all established their first bases in outlying areas of Tigray to avoid security apparatus of the state and thus be positioned to carry out peasant mobilizations, near their Eritrean supporters and, in the case of the EDU and TPLF, close to Sudan where they maintained political offices and attempted to mobilize refugees" (Feb. 2000, 26).

In 1998, a professor of political science at Oklahoma State University in Miami and author of Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State, and several articles on the politics of Ethiopia, stated the following, based on information obtained in 1993 with EDU members:

The EDU, a national party with a strong base of support in Tigray had difficulty holding public meetings or renting office space. Would-be land lords tenants received threats about what would happen to them or their families if they rented to "undesirable tenants" (the EDU)... [after a "spontaneous demonstration" against the EDU] extrajudicial punishment was meted out by the TPLF/EPRDF to supporters of the EDU: some were jailed on trumped-up charges; others lost their jobs; many were socially ostracized. Businessmen could make financial contributions to the EDU only at the peril of losing their business. Most poignantly, EDU supporters from a traditionally devout part of the country were denied sacraments of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church including baptism, marriage, and burial in a Christian cemetery" (Ethiopian Register Dec. 1998, 16).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please see the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Ethiopian Register [Minnesota]. February 2000. Messay Kebede. "John Young: Peasant Revolution in Ethiopia: The Tigray People's Liberation Front, 1975-1991."

_____. December 1998. Theodore M. Vestal. "Freedom of Association in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia" (Part II).

The Indian Ocean Newsletter [Paris]. 15 January 2000. No 887. "No Gifts for the Opposition." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential. 1999.

Africa Research Bulletin. 1998-1999.

Amnesty International 1999.

Country Reports for 1998 1999.

Horn of Africa Bulletin.

Keesing's 1999.

Political Handbook of the World 1998 1999.

Internet sites including:

Africa News.

Amnesty International.

Human Rights Watch.