Chief editor of 'Awramba Times' resigns, fate of paper unknown
By Abraha Belai, Ethiomedia | May 14, 2010

Ethiopian journalists continue to be forced into exile after enduring years of fear-ridden life and frequent detentions in the country. The 2006 photo shows exiled Ethiopian journalists in Nairobi, Kenya, protesting on the eve of World Press Freedom Day against government repression in their native country (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim, May 2, 2006)
ADDIS ABABA - The top editor of Awramba Times newspaper resigned on Friday after facing government threats over an article which brought fresh the memories of the stolen May 2005 elections.

Woubshet Taye, editor-in-chief of the Amharic weekly, quit his job after Desta Tesfaw, director general of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA), warned him that his paper was "intentionally inciting and misguiding the public by promoting the bad sides of the 2005 election."

Ethiopians are once again going to the polls on May 23rd.

"You will be fully responsible for any bloodshed that may occur in connection with the coming election," the official warned the editor, according to an email message sent to Ethiomedia.

Following the threat, the journalist summoned the staff, and announced his resignation.

EBA, a government body which issues broadcasting licenses and closely monitors the media don't step out of government line, was reportedly preparing "multiple charges" against Awramba Times.

Woubshet and Dawit Kebede, the executive editor, came under fire for writing an article which appeared last week, reminiscing about an opposition rally held on May 8, 2005, the grandest opposition rally ever in which conservative estimates put the number of pro-democracy marchers at over 2 million city residents of the Ethiopian capital.

Blue Earth PLC, Publisher of Awramba Times, has not yet decided over the fate of the newspaper, which was established by a group journalists who were detained in the aftermath of the 2005 election with senior leaders of a now-disbanded opposition party, Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD).

If Awramba Times is folded, it would be the second major blow to the remaining tiny private newspaper industry after editors of Addis Neger, a popular Amharic weekly, shut down offices and fled the country in December last year for fear of criminal charges. Journalists could face up to 10 years and beyond if convicted according to the newly enacted anti-terrorism law.

Ethiopia is the second worst jailer of journalists after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). - An African-American news and views website.
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