By Merga Yonas
An agreement reached between Ethiopian and Kenyan governments regarding peace and security on Wednesday has raised concerns that it could be used as a tool for extraditing Ethiopian political refugees in Kenya.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn held bilateral talks with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in Nairobi to work jointly on the peace and security challenges the Horn of African countries have been exposed to for years.
The two leaders also agreed to promote regional peace and security particularly in tackling terrorism, piracy, and other forms of organized crime that threaten to exacerbate the already volatile situation in the region.
However, various reports show that the agreement was rather intended to facilitate the extradition of political refugees exiled in Kenya.
Dina Mufti, spokesperson with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Reporter that although he had no detailed information on the extradition of political refugees the agreement was made to prevent crimes that take place on the borders of the two countries.
“If there could be any extradition of criminals from Kenya, it is going to be dealt with in the future,” Dina added.
In May, Ethiopia and Sudan signed a similar agreement on extraditing “criminals” intended to jointly battle crime, enhance regional peace and promote justice in general.
However, opposition political parties and human rights activists have condemned the two countries’ judicial agreement. They argued that the agreement was not intended to fight criminals but had another hidden agenda.
Merera Gudina, chairman of Medrek and Oromo People’s Congress (OPC), told Sudan Tribune that the convicts exchange agreement between Khartoum and Addis Ababa could be a special arrangement to prosecute political refugees. The fresh judiciary accord is a cover to hand over exiled opposition politicians, Merara added.
“In countries like Ethiopia where there is dictatorial rule, being an opposition member is tantamount to being a criminal,” the opposition official told Sudan Tribune.
He added that the agreement, if intended to target political refugees, will eventually ruin the brotherly ties between the two people and would leave a “dark spot” on the history of the two countries.
A considerable number of Ethiopian opposition members had sought refuge in Sudan after the 2005 elections 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.
Source: Ethiopian reporter news