Bate Urgessa was a member of the Oromo Liberation Front, which has been at odds with the country’s government for decades Bate Urgessa

A major figure in Ethiopia’s opposition party has been abducted and shot dead. Bate Urgessa was a member of the once-banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) party, which returned from political exile after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018.

In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter), the party said 41-year-old Urgessa, who had recently been released after two weeks’ detention, was killed on Tuesday night in his home town in the East African nation’s biggest and most populous region, Oromia.

“We appeal to all human rights organizations and peace-loving people to undertake an immediate neutral and impartial investigation,” the OLF said.

According to news outlet Addis Standard, which cited a family source, Bate was forcibly removed from a hotel room late on Tuesday and his body was discovered by the roadside the following morning in Meki, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) south of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

He was arrested in February at a hotel in Addis Ababa along with French journalist Antoine Galindo, allegedly conducting an interview. Both were accused of cooperating with rebel groups Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a military wing of the separatist OLF, and with the rebel Fano militia, in an alleged “conspiracy to incite unrest.”

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Galindo was released after a week, while Bate was granted bail after two weeks. The government critic had spent years in and out of prison on multiple occasions. He became seriously ill in 2022 while in custody and was freed.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has called for a “prompt, impartial” and “full investigation” of the incident, by both Oromia regional and Ethiopian federal authorities, to hold Bate’s killers accountable.

The OLF and the federal government have been at odds for decades over claims of marginalization and neglect of the Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group. Years of unrest in Oromia have claimed hundreds of lives and displaced tens of thousands. (RT)