Abiy, who has emerged as a key regional leader, met representatives of both sides on Friday in a bid to revive talks between Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders after the military launched a brutal crackdown on protesters that killed dozens of people this week.
Among the protest movement delegates he met were opposition politician Mohamed Esmat and a leader of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Ismail Jalab.
Esmat was arrested on Friday soon after his meeting with Abiy, while Jalab was arrested at his residence early on Saturday, their aides told AFP news agency.
“A group of armed men came in vehicles at 3am (1:00 GMT) and took away Ismail Jalab … without giving any reason,” Jalab aide Rashid Anwar told AFP, adding that SPLM-N spokesperson Mubarak Ardol was also detained.
Esmat and Jalab are both leading members of the Freedom and Change alliance, which brings together opposition parties and groups with the organisers of the mass protests that have gripped the East African country since December last year.
The arrest of Jalab comes just days after the SPLM-N’s deputy leader, Yasir Arman, was seized from his home in Khartoum.
The SPLM-N has led uprisings among non-Arab ethnic minorities in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states since 2011, which Sudan’s military rulers had vowed to end peacefully after their overthrow of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in April.
Eric Reeves, Sudan researcher at Harvard University, told Al Jazeera the latest arrests would complicate the situation further.