In Ethiopia PM Abiy Pushes Back Against Divisive Ethnic Politics Sparking Protests

Jawar Mohammed, who is a U.S. citizen and founder of the media network OMN, returned to Ethiopia from the United States last year after Abiy came to power and the two have been photographed repeatedly together since. On Tuesday Abiy issued a warning in a speech before parliament: “Those media owners who don’t have Ethiopian passports are playing both ways,” he said. “When there is peace you are playing here, and when we are in trouble you're not here." (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

Protests spread after stand-off at Ethiopian activist’s home

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Police fired gunshots and teargas as thousands protested in Ethiopia on Wednesday over the treatment of a prominent activist, residents said, in a sign that the country’s Nobel Prize-winning prime minister might be losing support among his powerbase.

More than a thousand supporters gathered in Addis Ababa outside the house of Jawar Mohammed, a media entrepreneur who organized protests that brought Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power last year, after police surrounded the building.

Protests quickly spread to the cities of Adama, Ambo and Jimma, residents said. Four people were reported to have been shot in Ambo.

On Tuesday, Abiy had warned against media owners “fomenting unrest”. That night, security forces surrounded Jawar’s house and the government attempted to withdraw his security detail, Jawar told Reuters.

The next morning, a Reuters witness saw at least 400 young men from the Oromo ethnic group chanting support for Jawar and against Abiy, the winner of this year’s Nobel peace prize. Around two dozen police officers stood nearby.

Abiy has won international praise for his sweeping political reforms but greater freedoms have lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions between Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups.

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Related:
Ethiopian Police Deny Claims of Plot to Harm Leading Activist (Bloomberg)

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