Ethiopian protests: Death toll in two days of protests stands at 67.
ADDIS ABABA – At least 27 people had succumbed to gunshot wounds by Friday evening following violent protests within Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and Oromia region, state media confirmed, Axadle reports.
Earlier, reports had indicated that only 16 people had been killed, with angry protestors accusing the government of using exercise force to ‘massacre innocent people’.
Youthful activist cum politician Jawar Mohammed had on Thursday asked his supporters to abandon the protests, calling for immediate reconciliation with their ‘enemies’.
Addressing hundreds of his supporters at his house in Addis Ababa, Jawar said: “Open the blocked roads, clean the towns of barricades, treat those who have been injured during the protests and reconcile with those you have quarreled with.”
But on Friday, a defiant Jawar accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of reintroducing dictatorship to the country. He warned that such attempts will be resisted.
The youthful politician, who holds US passport, also hinted at a possible run against Abiy in Ethiopia’s 2020 polls. Abiy took over in 2018 following the exit of Hailemariam Desalegn.
“The majority of people believe the transition is off track and we are backsliding toward an authoritarian system,” Jawar said, sitting in his heavily guarded home-office in the center of the capital, Addis Ababa.
“The ruling party and its ideology will be challenged seriously not only in the election but also prior to the elections,” he told Reuters.
Police have been accused of using live bullets to disperse protestors, leading to the death of the 27 people. After Jawar’s address, protestors are said to have slowed down.
Already, the Ethiopian government has deployed military to affected cities, arguing that ‘it will be held restore order by negotiating with elders’.
Trouble started on Tuesday when Jawar went to his Facebook account and complained that the state had withdrawn his security besides besieging his house.
In the capital, Addis Ababa, supporters offered to act as Jawar’s security detail and protesters were heard shouting: “Down, down, Abiy.”
Angry protestors burnt Abiy’s newly published book, Medemer, which explains his leadership philosophy. The book-burning took place in the town of Dadar.
A fortnight ago, Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize ostensibly for his efforts in negotiating the historic Eritrean peace deal that ended decades of civil war.
On Tuesday evening, the Ethiopian PM warned Jawar indirectly, accusing him of using Oromia Media Network to fuel ethnic violence.
“Those media owners who don’t have Ethiopian passports are playing both ways,” Abiy was quoted as saying in parliament by Reuters news agency.
“When there is peace you are playing here, and when we are in trouble you [are] not here.”
Both Abiy Ahmed and Jawar Mohammed come from the ethnic Oromo, the biggest of the over 80 tribes in Ethiopia. Jawar is credited for the engineering removal of Hailemariam Desalegn.