At least 52 killed in Ethiopia protests over singer's death
- 01 July 2020
At least 50 people were killed in Ethiopia’s Oromiya region in protests following the fatal shooting of a popular singer, a regional spokesman said on Wednesday, laying bare splits in the prime minister’s political heartland ahead of next year’s polls, APA reports citing Reuters.
Musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa was shot dead on Monday night in what police said was a targeted killing.
Protests reflecting anger at the killing of a popular figure and a sense of political marginalisation broke out the next morning in the capital and other towns and cities in the surrounding Oromiya region.
The dead included protesters and members of the security forces, spokesman Getachew Balcha said. Some businesses had also been set on fire.
“We were not prepared for this,” he said.
Police said late on Tuesday that a policeman was also killed in Addis Ababa, and three explosions there had killed and injured an unspecified number of people.
Prominent Oromo opposition leader Bekele Gerba and media mogul Jawar Mohammed were also arrested when Jawar’s bodyguards refused to disarm during a stand-off with police.
Haacaaluu, whose funeral will be held Thursday, provided a soundtrack to a generation of young protesters. Their three years of bloody street demonstrations forced the unprecedented resignation of the previous prime minister and the appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in 2018.
Abiy, Haacaaluu and Jawar are all Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, which has long complained of being excluded from power.
Jawar was a prominent supporter of Abiy’s appointment, but became more openly critical last year. Jawar’s popular Oromo Media Network gives him the ability to mobilise support quickly across Oromiya and his power base could pose a significant challenge to Abiy’s party in next year’s elections.