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Ethiopia police block anti-government protests

Addis Ababa (AFP) – A massive deployment of police in Ethiopia’s restive Oromo and Amhara regions prevented fresh anti-government protests over the weekend, an opposition leader said Monday.

Demonstrations began popping up in Ethiopia in November 2015 in the Oromia region, which surrounds the capital, due to a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa. By Lea-Lisa Westerhoff (AFP/File)
Demonstrations began popping up in Ethiopia in November 2015 in the Oromia region, which surrounds the capital, due to a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa. By Lea-Lisa Westerhoff (AFP/File)

“The situation is very tense,” said Beyene Petros, chairperson of MEDREK, an opposition coalition.

“The army, the federal police and plain clothes policemen are heavily deployed. They beat (the protesters). They chase them. They even go house to house threatening the parents.”

Small-scale protests were however reported over the weekend in at least three locations in Amhara region in the north and one in the central Oromo region. Last week, simultaneous protests were held for the first time in Oromo and Amhara regions, home to Ethiopia’s two biggest ethnic groups.

They were violently suppressed by security forces who opened fire on crowds in several places leaving at least a hundred dead, according to rights group Amnesty International.

Further rallies are expected in the coming days but the traditional, weak opposition parties claim to have little control over a protest movement they say is coordinated by youth activists using social media.

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“People are coming out spontaneously. Political parties are bypassed,” said Petros. “We’re just watching and try to advise both sides so the damage will be minimised.”

Ethiopian opposition parties have been decimated by the arrests of leaders and members in recent years, often under a broadly-applied anti-terrorism law.

The ruling EPRDF coalition — in power for a quarter of a century — won every parliamentary seat in last year’s elections, triggering a wave of angry protests, according to Petros.

“This has enraged the population who has given up on EPRDF when it comes to bringing about a democratic system in this country,” he said.

“We are challenging the ruling party to open the political space.”

4 Comments

  1. Boycott everything Tigreans, their business, music, everything.
    Do your part, true Ethiopians. Tigreans are killing our brothers and sisters. Don’t confuse it with Woyanes.

  2. Yes, true. All Ethiopians are equal. Peace prosperity and equality of all nations and nationalities. Please those who oppose federal administration think twice. You are like ISIS. You want destruction.
    Why are you mad if Somali Region is administered by Somali Ethiopians, or Tigrai Region is administered by Tigreans. If you really like Ethiopia, you should be working peacefully to improve democracy, not to destroy the country and reverse the hard earned gains.
    Let us be civilized and create non-violent political parties with far sighted visions to bring true multi-party system.
    Please do not support violence.
    If you really like more political freedom, just learn to control violence and promote peaceful political strategy.

  3. “True Ethiopian”,

    You are rather true traitor (banda).

    Ethiopians are demanding freedom, equality, justice and the truth. Because you are banda (the criminal who committed all those), you cannot see it. You are the liar, the looter and the murderer. How can you understand the roaring public plea?
    The power of the horror you committed for >40 years against Ethiopians, i.e. authority of human conscience, shall consume you all in due time. Ethiopia shall be completely free of TPLF and its surrogates.
    Believe me or watch out: 2009 ET. c. is your burial year! You will be buried like you have never existed!

    • “True Ethiopian”, you are rather true traitor (banda).
      Ethiopians are demanding freedom, equality, justice and the truth. Because you are banda (the criminal who committed all those), you cannot see it. You are the liar, the looter and the murderer. How can you understand the roaring public plea?
      The power of the horror you committed for >40 years against Ethiopians, i.e. authority of human conscience, shall consume you all in due time. Ethiopia shall be completely free of TPLF and its surrogates.
      Believe me or watch out: 2009 ET. c. is your burial year! You will be buried like you have never existed!

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