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Abiy Ahmed's peace credentials questioned after forcibly extraditing Djiboutian asylum seeker.

Saturday June 6, 2020

Mogadishu (HOL) - A prominent cleric has joined the chorus of calls in condemning Ethiopia's Prime Minister for his role in extraditing a Djbouti military pilot to his country as he sought political asylum in Ethiopia.

Sheikh Abdourahman Bashir, one of Somalia's leading Islamic scholars, was vocal about his support for Lt. Fouad Youssouf Ali's release from Gabode prison in Djibouti city.

The lieutenant, a Djibouti Armed Forces pilot, fled from his native Djibouti to Ethiopia on March 27 after criticizing the military for what he perceived as corrupt and unjust behaviour.

According to local media, the Djibouti government issued an arrest warrant and ordered his extradition.

There have been unconfirmed reports that his family, including mother and children, have been harassed and arrested by Djibouti authorities.

While preparing to file an asylum request in Ethiopia, Lt. Ali was arrested by Ethiopian security forces in Addis Ababa on April 8, prompting an online campaign to petition for his freedom. Lt. Ali was arrested in the quarantine facility that he was placed into by Ethiopian authorities.

Lt. Ali appeared in a video that was filmed from his cell earlier this week where he appeared to be in poor health and held in squalid conditions.

His lawyer, Zakaria Abdellahi, has requested a medical examination and a report is expected as early as Sunday.

Lt. Ali's family is pleading for his release from prison. He previously fled to Ethiopia and sought asylum before he was forcibly extradited. SUPPLIED

His family has not been able to visit him since his arrest. The family asserts that prison officials are openly flouting a judge's order that permits them to communicate with the lieutenant.

According to sources, Lt. Fouad Youssouf Ali is being prosecuted for attempted theft, sabotage and destruction of military equipment - a helicopter. He is also charged with desertion and sharing intelligence with an enemy power, in this case, Eritrea. Djibouti and Eritrea have engaged in hostilities in the past during a border conflict. The issue has not yet been resolved.

Sheikh Abdourahman Bashir who's from Djibouti but now resides in Ottawa, Canada - home to one of the largest Djibouti diaspora communities - told HOL that he is organizing demonstrations in different parts of the world to drum up support for the crestfallen lieutenant. He said that he hopes to arrange one on Washington D.C where there is a Djibouti embassy.

Sheikh Abdourahman Bashir said he is organizing demonstrations in support of Lt. Ali's release. Photo/Facebook.

He hopes the demonstrations can force the hand of lawmakers in the U.S. and Canada who in turn will pressure the Djibouti government.

He added that he is in communication with human rights groups to investigate the abuses committed by Ethiopia and Djibouti.

He noted that Abiy Ahmed's decision to catapult to Djibouti is in stark contrast with his carefully cultivated image as a peace-maker. The Sheikh said that Abiy's behaviour in this affair is unbecoming of a Nobel Prize recipient.

Supporters have setup a website -  www.freefoud.org - where they are requesting individuals so sign a petition. The website also handles donations.


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