Security forces in Ethiopia on Monday re-arrested eight politicians and journalists who were recently freed under a government directive aimed at opening up the repressive nation’s political space.
Amha Mekonnen, a lawyer for those re-arrested told newsmen that the groups were arrested on Sunday while they were meeting for a social event at a journalist’s house in the capital, Addis Ababa.
“They were nabbed by security forces while they gathered for a social event. I don’t understand the reason for their latest arrest.
“My understanding is that they were held for displaying a national flag which doesn’t bear the national emblem superimposed at the centre.
“I also understand they were accused of gathering in mass in violation of the state of emergency rule,” Mekonnen said.
Report says it is against the law to use an altered version of the Ethiopian flag, an offence punishable by up to a year and a half in prison.
The latest emergency rule also prohibits individuals from gathering in large groups without first informing the authorities.
In a surprise move, Ethiopia’s outgoing Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced in January that members of political parties and activists would be released from prison and dozens were freed from jails across the country.
Since then, Ethiopia has re-introduced a state of emergency for the second time in two years amid worsening anti-government protests and Desalegn has resigned.
He said he was stepping down in the face of the protests to try and keep the peace in the country.
A new leader is expected to be installed by the ruling coalition in the coming few days.