Key opposition figures in Ethiopia have been charged with terrorism-related offences and other criminal activities.
In all 24 persons have been charged including prominent figure Jawar Mohammed, the attorney general’s office said on Saturday.
Jawar Mohammed is a media mogul turned opposition politician with a huge following among young people in Oromo.
Mohammed’s lawyer Tuli Bayissa told AP that the charges are shocking. He is quoted as saying that “This is unethical. I haven’t heard anything like this.”
The charges were filed against the opposition figures following the ethnic unrest that characterized the killing of popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa.
The violent incident led to the death of more than 150 people in late June this year.
Pop star Hachalu, a member of the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, was shot dead by unknown attackers in Addis Ababa, fuelling ethnic tensions threatening the country’s democratic transition.
Hachalu’s music gave voice to Oromos’ widespread sense of economic and political marginalisation during years of anti-government protests that swept Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018.
Those charged are to appear in court on Monday for the start of their trial, according to the country’s attorney general.
Other government critics also charged, include Oromo activist Tsegaye Regassa and former Abiy ally-turned-critic Birhanemeskel Abebe.
Critics of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accuse him of locking up those who oppose his government.
Analysts say those charged if convicted could face life in prison.