Ethiopia: New PM tours hotbed regions of deadly protests, opposition skeptical of his approach in resolving political crisis

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (April 12, 2018)

Fews days after taking office, Ethiopia’s newly elected Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed paid a visit last week to the country’s Somali region in the East where hundreds were killed and over a million displaced in what was being blamed on ethnic clashes between the Somali and Oromo communities.

PM Abiy Ahmed addressing crowds in Ambo on Wednesday April 11, 2018 (Photo OBN)

Yesterday, thousands of residents and hundreds of horsemen in the town of Ambo, 75 miles from the capital, welcomed the Prime Minister and listened to his speech that called for patience and calmness while his government address the grievances of the people.

The town of Ambo is the epicenter of the three year deadly protest in the Oromo region where at least a thousand people were killed by security forces of the regime. And the Prime Minister was the first high ranking regime officials to address the people in the town.

“This is the first time the most powerful person in Ethiopia visited Ambo. The other leaders didn’t like to visit because they were afraid. He broke that tradition,” Ambo resident Almaz Bulcha told AFP news agency.

The Prime Minister, who is known for his oratorical prowess, pleaded to the residents to give time to his administration as it works to meet the demands of the youth movement, locally known as Qeerroo.

The Qeerroo is a network of youth in the country’s Oromo region that has been spearheading the protest against economic and political marginalization of the majority by a minority Tigrayan elite that controls all aspects of lives in a stasi like control and military rule imposed by declaring two state of emergencies in a span of two years.

The Prime Minister is also said to have been holding a meeting today with local opposition groups, in line with his promise in his parliamentary inaugural speech a week ago.

Vice chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) Mulatu Gemechu is however sceptical of the approach being adopted by the Prime Minister in addressing the crisis in the country.

Gemechu said he is not very optimistic that the Prime Minister could bring about real political changes in the country.

Gemechu believes the Prime Minister does not deed to make what he called celebratory tour in the regions. He said, instead, Abiy Ahmed needs to announce a new cabinet and identify the real political issues in the country and work to address them.

“People are still being killed under his watch,” Gemechu told ESAT.