Ethiopia’s Oromo protests: PM Hailemariam Desalegn apologises (BBC)

10 March 2016

Hailemariam Desalegn
Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn blamed “anti-peace forces” for the trouble

Ethiopia’s prime minster has apologised for the death and destruction caused by protests in the Oromia region.

But Hailemariam Desalegn, addressing parliament in the capital, Addis Ababa, said “anti-peace forces” were responsible for the violence.

He said that the government needs to listen to the grievances of the people.

Oromia has been hit by months of unrest, in which 200 people have reportedly died – a number disputed by the government.

The authorities deny that security forces have been involved in a violent crackdown.

The protests began over government plans to expand the capital’s administrative control into the Oromia region, which have since been dropped.

Oromia at a glance:

Map of Ethiopia
  • Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region, surrounding the capital, Addis Ababa
  • Oromo are Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group – making up about a third of Ethiopia’s 95 million people
  • The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) is Oromia’s largest legally registered political party, but holds no seats in parliament

Why Ethiopia is making a historic ‘master plan’ U-turn

Find out more about Ethiopia

The government later dropped the plan, but protesters dismissed the decision as “too little too late”.

Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region and the Oromo people, who make up a third of Ethiopia’s population, have complained of historic economic and political marginalisation.

People mourn the death a man who was shot dead by the Ethiopian forces the day earlier, in the Yubdo Village, about 100km from Addis Ababa in the Oromia region, on 17 December 2015
Image copyright AFP,People in the region have long complained of marginalisation

Mr Hailemariam told parliament that “anti-peace forces… in a bid to divert the people’s legitimate questions… have inflicted losses on human lives and government and private property”.

But according to messages on the ministry of foreign affairs Twitter feed, the prime minster admitted the problems in Oromia “are direct results of unresponsiveness and unemployment”.

He added that the government recognises the need to address grievances and said it “unreservedly apologises to our people for what happened”.

However, the government “will intensify their decisive actions against the anti-peace forces,” he said.

Source: BBC

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