Ethiopia protests leave 67 dead, Nobel-Winning PM stays mum


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed comes under fire as he remains silent amidst series of protests  last week that left 67 people dead Ethiopian police said. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was in Russia attending a summit meeting of African leaders in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, when the protests broke out.

Thirteen of the protesters were killed by security forces. The rest were killed in sporadic fighting that broke out between rival groups, said Kefyalew Tefera, regional police commissioner for the Oromia region.

Commissioner Tefera added another 213 have been injured but refuses to reveal the root cause of that fighting or what particular groups were involved.

“By Thursday night, calm had been restored to the country, with no kind of protest or violent activities,” said Tefera.

Officials also announced recently they had deployed soldiers to seven regional towns, including six in the Oromia region, after violence broke out this week.

The protests were said to have been prodded by Mr. Abiy’s prominent critic, Jawar Mohammed, founder of an independent media network who had accused the police of plotting an attack on him. He claimed that there was a plan to arrest or possibly kill him at his house in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The accusations stoked longstanding tensions in Ethiopia, the second-most populous nation in Africa, and drove hundreds of Jawar’s ethnic Oromo supporters to gather outside his home.

Since coming to power, Prime Minister Abiy has released tens of thousands of political prisoners and has been credited with ending the decades-long conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, its isolated neighbor.

The Nobel Committee that awarded Mr. Abiy the Peace Prize on October 11, cited his accomplishments on his first 100 days in office, including lifting a state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, halting media censorship and legalizing outlawed opposition groups.(Source: The New York Times)