Ethiopia says 'enemies' Egypt, Eritrea fuelling unrest

Ethiopia's information minister says groups in Eritrea and Egypt are contributing to the unrest in the country

Ethiopia says 'enemies' Egypt, Eritrea fuelling unrest

World Bulletin / News Desk

Ethiopia on Monday blamed "enemies" from Egypt and neighbouring Eritrea for stoking an unprecedented wave of protests that has led the government to declare a six-month state of emergency.

Ethiopia's government is facing the biggest challenge of its 25 years in power from protesters who have turned their anger against foreign-owned companies, torching several farms and factories in the past week.

The protesters from the majority Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups accuse the minority Tigrayan-led government of monopolising power and controlling the economy.

However government has blamed "foreign elements" for inciting the violence, without providing any evidence.

"What we have is anti-Ethiopian elements using the protesters to attack whatever achievements Ethiopia has made in the last 15 or 20 years," said Communication Minister Getachew Reda.

"This has been done at the behest of historical enemies of the country," he said, accusing Eritrea of "infiltrating terrorists" into the country.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a two-year border war between 1998 and 2000 which left 80,000 dead, and tensions between the neighbours flared again earlier this year.

Authorities have also taken aim at Egypt, with whom tensions have arisen over access to the Nile River.

Ethiopia is building a hydropower dam on the Nile close to its source in the Ethiopian highlands, raising fears in Egypt which depends on controlling the flow of the Nile's waters for its survival.

"Countries displeased with our determination to build the great Renaissance Dam ... have for a long time conspired with diaspora extremists to destabilise our country," Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told parliament, citing "certain Egyptian institutions".

For his part Getachew accused Egypt of training and financing the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), regarded by Ethiopia as a terrorist group behind the protests.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid denied the accusations in a statement reaffirming "Egypt's absolute respect for Ethiopia's sovereignty, and non-intervention in its internal affairs."

 UN slams 'mass killings' 

 Protests by the Oromo and Amhara communities -- who make up 60 percent of the population of Ethiopia -- began protesting against the minority Tigrayan government in November 2015.

United Nation's human rights experts on Monday called for an international probe to investigate the violence used on protesters, saying 600 people had been killed in a violent crackdown.

"We are outraged at the alarming allegations of mass killings, thousands of injuries, tens of thousands of arrests and hundreds of enforced disappearances," UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard said in a statement.

The latest surge in anger comes after a stampede at an Oromo religious festival on October 2 after police fired teargas at protesters, sparking panic that left over 50 dead.

Getachew said protesters had since torched more than a dozen farms and destroyed five factories, adding that an unspecified number of civilians had been killed in the ensuing violence.

In response the government on Sunday announced a six month state of emergency.

Getachew said the state of emergency meant there would be a "lower threshold for the use of force". 

"The kind of threats we are facing, the kind of attacks that are now targeting civilians, targeting civilian infrastructures, targeting investment cannot be handled through ordinary law enforcement procedures," he said.

 ' A sinister move' 

 The protests threaten Ethiopia's reputation as an oasis of political stability whose double-digit growth has lured investors in recent years.

Henok Gabisa, a researcher on international law at Washington and Lee University in the United States, said the state of emergency only officialised the status quo in the country.

"The country has already been under the same exact situation of state of emergency since the first protest broke out," he said 

"The declaration of the state of emergency is a sinister move to be  used as a legal cover by the regime to continue to exonerate itself from mass murders, mass arrests, media blackout."

Getachew said the "extraordinary situation" demanded the state of emergency but insisted it did not amount to a "blanket ban on civilian life".

He raised the possibility of concessions to protesters such as a government reshuffle and a "broadening of political space".


Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Ekim 2016, 21:32