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Police continue shooting on civilians in Ambo, William Davison of Bloomberg writes from the scene

william-800x445I’m still around 60 kilometers along the Ambo road from Addis Ababa in Wolenkomi, Oromia region, where four people were shot dead by police yesterday during what everyone described as a peaceful demonstration.
The military is back in town now and shooting every few seconds. I’m hiding.
The main local government compound and other public buildings, including the police station, were ransacked four days ago. The locals have made a point of leaving the health clinic and a school untouched.
There’s no significant police presence since shootings yesterday afternoon, just occasional gunshots and youth marching round town chanting anti-government slogans. Residents rebuilt roadblock this morning after the military came through town with a gun mounted on a pick-up and troops patrolling through town.
A Total gas truck and a Dashen beer lorry are being used to block the road; neither have been looted. Civilian and commercial vehicles had rocks thrown at them smashing windows; it was because they tried to get around the protesters’ roadblock, the locals said. One roadblock was gleefully made out of tables and cabinets from the remains of the police station. A photo of Meles was burned on it.
From what I’ve seen so far in Wolenkomi, this seems more like a popular uprising than an organized rebel campaign, or a fringe protest movement. However, obviously I don’t know what is going on elsewhere.
Yesterday people appeared angry and defiant after the shootings; not scared and submissive.
The underlying grievances (aside from anger at the shooting of demonstrators, and the issue of the Addis masterplan, Oromo rights) heard so far against the government were mostly local: unfair fee levied on farmers to buy uniforms for local militias; new restrictive licensing laws for cattle trade; evictions without due compensation; land sold to investors, including local forest Chilimo; low government salaries and long hours; overbearing local militias; top local officials benefiting from the system. Basically, that whole ‘good governance’ problem that the EPRDF’s been admitting recently….

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