Government planning a meeting with opposition representatives by end of this month, Addis Standard learned
Online activists of the #OromoProtest, a persistent anti-government protest by Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, have called for massive protest rallies throughout the Oromia regional state, the largest among the nine regional states in Ethiopia. Accordingly, activists are calling on a region-wide protest on August 06 to continue the protest that first flared up on November 12, 2015 in Ginchi, a small town some 80 Kms South West of the Capital Addis Abeba.
In a related news, reliable sources told Addis Standard that the government in Ethiopia is planning to call a meeting at the end of this month with opposition party representatives “both inside and outside the county” to be held at the African Union (AU) aimed at discussing the political impasse the country seems to be in. Titled “Peace Building and National Consensus”, the meeting is requested by the government and is expected to be facilitated by the AU, Addis standard learned. However our attempts to get official confirmation were to no avail.
The call for more protest rallies by the #OromoProtest online activists follows another massive rally held in the last weekend in the Gonder city of the Amahara regional state in the north. The peaceful protests in Gonder, which attracted more than half a million participants, followed another protest held between July 12th and 14th in which more than a dozen people were killed.
The protest related death in itself followed a raid by heavily armed federal security forces, including the Anti-Terrorism special force, targeting members of the Wolkayit community who have been protesting against the federal government’s decision to incorporate the area where the community lives into the Tigray regional state. The Wolkayit community members also reject the idea of them being ethnically considered as Tigrayan and want to identify themselves as Amhara.
More than 400 Oromos were killed by security forces since then, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). In Addition to the report by the HRW, activists are also documenting the death, injuries and forced disappearances of individuals from areas where protests are taking place. Hundreds of University students have also been dismissed from several state universities located in the region.
Government dismisses the rally
The online calls for more rallies were dismissed first by Muktar Kedir, President of the Oromia regional state. In a statement he gave to state controlled and affiliated media last night, the president insisted that the protests rallies were illegal because the regional government has received no prior notification from the organizers.
In Addition, in a press statement he gave to government filtered media organization today, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn dismissed the legality of the planed protest rallies and said his government was ready to discuss public discontents with the people of Ethiopia. But he cautioned the people of the country not to be misled by social media calls protests and added the government will be forced to take mesasures against “illegal activities,” according to a report filed by state run Fana Broadcasting Corporation.
However, in a letter of notice addressed to Abbaa Duulaa Gammadaa, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Muktar Kedir, President of the National Regional State of Oromia, Ibrahim Haji, Commissioner of Oromia Police and , all City Councils in charge of matters pertaining to Public Political meetings and Peaceful Demonstration, the online activists evoke Proclamation No 3/1991 that says “people who seek to stage public political meetings and peaceful demonstrations have a mere duty of notification.”