Ethiopia stories to watch today:
- Protests return to restive Oromia state: roadblocks, deaths and injuries reported
- Ethiopia’s premier addresses the House of People’s Representatives
- Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority undermines Minister of Communications
Federal security forces on Thursday fired live ammunition at protesters who had blocked roads, killing 10 and wounding 20 others in Ethiopia’s restive town of Ambo in central Oromia, according to a spokesperson for the town. The killing signals a dangerous escalation as regional Oromo authorities call for meaningful implementation of the country’s federalist constitution.
- Addis Standard: A large contingent of the regular federal army are also deployed in the city.
- Local merchant to AS: We’ve never seen this level of military forces deployed in the city even during the peak times of last year’s Oromo protests.
- Residents in the area also told Reuters that demonstrators blocked the town’s main road to protest sugar shortages, sparking clashes with [security forces].
Languages to watch for: Oromia officials are denouncing the protests as “lawlessness” and “unnecessary” while blaming enemies of the regional state for organizing the demonstrations. Others, mostly pro-government bloggers and media outlets, are characterizing the situation as a “security breakdown.” Analysts warn that the latter language follows earlier calls by the same groups for the reimposition of the state of emergency to subdue assertive Oromia officials.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn took questions from members of Parliament on the ongoing Oromo-Somali border conflict and recent high level resignations by the Speaker of the House and a key policy aide.
- Hailemariam: Resignations are “common in a democratic party and government and should be habituated.”
- What he didn’t say: This is the first time in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front’s more than quarter a century rule when a senior government official – a founder of the party, no less – stepped down protesting the government’s handling of a proxy border war, disrespect for his people and the lack of implementation of the federal order.
- Hailemariam: Abadula’s resignation request is still under consideration. Abadula did not attend the parliament session today.
- Hailemariam bolsters Oromia’s claim that the border conflict with Somali regional state is not ethnic in nature as has been hyped by western media.
- Per Addis Standard, Hailemariam attributed the prevalence of “black market in foreign currency”, “rampant contraband” and “the rush to monopolize Khat trading” in eastern Ethiopia as playing a major role in giving the conflict an “ethnic and national dimension.”
- The PM also noted that in the last few months, the Oromia state police and federal customs officials have apprehended “about two million dollars” on its way out of the country via the Somali regional state border in eastern Ethiopia.
- Hailemariam also lamented about lack of professionalism and weak capacity of local media, calling on pro-government stations to exercise caution.
The Director General of Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, Zeray Asgedom, on Wednesday dismissed comments by the Communications Minister Dr. Negeri Lencho, in which he warned couple of pro-government media outlets for inciting ethnic violence, as the minister’s own personal opinions.
Zeray Asgedom,DG of Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, bitterly complains about lack of proper coverage of protests by gov. owned local media pic.twitter.com/gstnoXygdL
— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) October 25, 2017
Mohammed Ademo: “Asgedom’s comments…undercutting Negeri Lencho’s warnings about Zemi FM and ENN’s inciting coverage of last week’s events in Illu Abba Bora reminded me of this exchange from my interview last year with Juneydi Sado: For every Oromo (generally non-Tigrayan) minister or office holder there’s always an empowered deputy keeping watch over him or her. In this case, Negeri is Zeray’s superior yet the latter minced no words in undermining him. Nothing new here except the timing.”