Q&A: The Failed Power Grab in Ethiopia

Ethiopian diplomat Samia Zekaria tells Al Jazeera that the attempted power grab in Ethiopia this week "came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms" undertaken under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to power in April last year. (Photo: Reuters)

Al Jazeera

Q&A: ‘Power in Ethiopia to come through voting, not violence’

A failed coup bid last weekend in Ethiopia’s Amhara region was orchestrated by people seeking to forcefully seize power against the will of the population, the Ethiopian ambassador to Qatar has said, adding that the situation has now returned to normal.

In an interview with Al Jazeera this week, Samia Zekaria said the attempted power grab “came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms” undertaken by the government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to power in April last year.

Ethiopia’s government accused General Asamnew Tsige of masterminding two separate attacks on June 22 in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa that killed several people, including the president of the Amhara region and the national army’s chief of staff. The government referred to the killings in Amhara as an attempted coup. Asamnew was shot dead on Monday by security forces.

Al Jazeera spoke to Zekaria, who assumed the position of Ethiopia’s ambassador in Qatar in February, about the recent instability in Ethiopia, the state of human rights in the country and its mediating efforts in neighbouring Sudan. The interview below has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Al Jazeera: What is the current mood in the country following last weekend’s events?

Samia Zekaria: The people of Ethiopia want peace. The coup attempt came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms undertaken by the government.

It is a national tragedy. People are condemning what has happened all across the country. Power in Ethiopia will come through the ballot box, not through violence.

Al Jazeera: Many have attributed the recent violence to ethnic tensions. Do you think Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has managed to help defuse ethnic tensions in Ethiopia?

Zekaria: Ethiopia is a country of diversity in terms of religion, language, ethnicity and culture but known for centuries to live together peacefully.

There are more than 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Some have tried to use the differences such as religion and ethnicity to cause trouble and conflict. I believe these tensions will settle down as time goes by.

The recent coup attempt was orchestrated by those who want to acquire power forcefully against the will of the people and in an unconstitutional way. The situation has been normalised now.

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Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

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Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

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