Addis on edge over ethno-politically motivated skirmishes

Ethiopia's population is highly diverse, containing over 80 different ethnic groups. Photo: RR

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADV) – As at press time on Monday, Addis Ababa’s sprawling suburb of Burayu was the theatre of running battles pitching law enforcement agents and rag-tag civilian gangs.

The confrontation continued on Monday as civil society representatives continued to amplify calls by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for calm since the skirmishes began almost six days ago but to no avail.

Insecurity is reaching peak levels in Burayu which is located in the Oromia regional state – the seat of erstwhile armed opposition groups to Ethiopia’s former governments.

Hospital sources have confirmed an unspecified number of civilian deaths as autopsies were being undertaken on some of them, while scores of people have as well been injured as a frightening exodus heads up to the capital, Addis.

In Addis, riot police are visible at many intersections waiting to slug it out highly mobile civilian gangs that could be gearing up for the city center which the government is bound to maintain at all cost.

Premier Ahmed is already on record for having given the tall order to security operatives to « do all it takes to defend the rule of law ».

Commercial and social activities in Addis are being affected as panic and confusion is visible on the faces of city dwellers.

Analysts are expressing apprehension that the ethno-politically motivated incidents could degenerate into a widespread chaos that would culminate in the complete break down in law and order and force Premier Ahmed to resign.

Many observers further believe that the upheaval is underpinned by disenchantment on the part of opposition politicians who are allegedly instigating erratic youths to help derail the politically-savvy and democratic reforms of Ahmed’s administration.

Last week, the erstwhile armed renegade Oromo leader Berhanu Nega who returned to Ethiopia after 11 years of self-imposed exile in neighboring Eritrea expressed doubts over Premier Ahmed’s reforms.

Here is what he said: «We know that the political reform process still faces risks from those who want to sabotage it as well as those impatient with the pace of things,» he said.

Nega returned home thanks to the incumbent Premier Abiy Ahmed’s removal of Nega’s group from the list of terror organizations imposed by former governments.

© Bur-csa – S.E / From our regional correspondent Tamba Jean-Matthew III – African Daily Voice (ADV)