At least three people were shot dead on Wednesday across several cities in the Oromiya region, West of capital Addis Ababa, barely three weeks after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won Nobel Peace Prize, Garowe Online reports.
Protests rocked the capital and Oromiya since Tuesday evening when media entrepreneur and activist Jawar Mohammed complained about security concerns after the withdrawal of his guards.
Jawar said he did not know who had ordered the deployment of police and the removal of his guards, but said he believed that “whoever was orchestrating this was planning an assassination”.
Several youths gathered outside his house, local media reports, chanting anti-Abiy slogans, calling for his immediate resignation.
Earlier in parliament on Tuesday, Ahmed indirectly accused Jawar of promoting ethic violence through media houses, referring to him as a foreigner who doesn’t possess an Ethiopian passport.
“Those media owners who don’t have Ethiopian passports are playing both ways,” he told parliament on Tuesday. “When there is peace you are playing here, and when we are in trouble you not here.”
Ahmed warned that his administration will no longer tolerate the violence, adding that ‘they have no other country to run to if the violence is not contained’.
“We tried to be patient. But if this is going to undermine the peace and existence of Ethiopia … we will take measures. You can’t play both ways,” he told Parliament.
Jawar owns the Oromia Media Network, one of the biggest media companies in Ethiopia. He also has over 1.75 million followers on Facebook, a platform he used to wage a revolution against former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in 2018.
Ahmed’s statements at parliament seemingly targeting gag Jawar’s media house are said to have significantly contributed to spontaneous violence which is currently going on.
Jawar was born in Ethiopia but possesses an American passport. He comes from the Oromo ethnic group just like Prime Minister Ahmed.
Interestingly, at their Oromiya backyard, Jawar is celebrated as a hero given his contributions towards the ouster of the former regime, with many youths regarding Ahmed as an opportunist.
But the death of three people around Adama town could negatively impact on Ahmed’s international reputation, following his recent Nobel Peace Prize glory.
For months now, ethnic tensions have escalated in the Horn of Africa nation, leading to death and displacement of thousands of people. The country could suffer more fatalities given Ahmed’s latest scuffle with Jawar.
The Prime Minister’s explains at the international stage were ostensibly boosted by the roles he played in restoring peace in Eritrea. But he now risks watering the gains due to unending internal squabbles, which are partly ethic, religious and political.
Besides the internal crisis, the PM is also at loggerheads with Egypt over his plans to construct a dam on the Blue Nile. Further, Ahmed is also facing criticism in Somalia, with Jubaland politicians accusing him of meddling with their internal administration through non-AMISOM troops.
Wednesday’s protests now risk soiling his gains, even as political temperatures continue to escalate. His critics could seize the opportunity to push for his ouster following police brutality.
Reporting by Abuga Makori in Nairobi; Editing by Omar Nor