Mengistu Haile Mariam could be extradited to Ethiopia – MDC

Former Ethiopian ruler Mengistu Haile-Mariam, seen in this August 9, 1990 photo, is found guilty of genocide. He could face the death penalty at his Dec. 28 sentencing, but Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said he won't deport Mengistu if he refrains from making political statements or comments to the press.(AP Photo/Aris Saris)
The Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which is due to join unity government says handing over Mengistu to Ethiopia would be “high” on its agenda.

Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson for the MDC told the Times “Zimbabwe should not be a safe haven or resting place for serial human rights violators like Mr Mengistu. “We can’t shelter purveyors of injustice,” he said.

Mengistu took power in a coup against Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974 in an operation nicknamed as “The Red Terror” in which thousands of Ethiopians were said to have been killed.

Despite his despicable record in Ethiopia, Megistu’s Marxist regime propped up the SPLM/A by backing them logistically. In 1991 his government was ousted by rebels led by the current Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The fall of Mengistu, a key ally of the SPLM/SPLA left the Movement vulnerable politically and militarily. After Mengistu was toppled, Washington negotiated with President Mugabe to give him asylum to end further bloodshed, according to the Times.

Last year an Ethiopian court sentenced the 71-year old Mengistu to death in absentia though President Mugabe refused to hand him over because he had been a supporter of the Zanu (PF) liberation war in the 1970’s.

Any attempts by the Movement for Democratic change to extradite Mengistu are likely to be met with resistance by the Zanu-PF party of Robert Mugabe. The extradition could yet again be another contentious point for the soon to be a coalition government.

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