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Addis Abeba’s proposed Master Plan sparks nationwide university students’ protest

Kalkidan Yibeltal

Protests against the new Addis Ababa and Oromia Integrated Development Master Plan proposed by the Addis Ababa City Administration sparked a nationwide deadly protest by university students inside several universities located in Oromia regional state, the country’s largest stat.  Protests have gone dire as Oromo students who protested the new integrated master plan clashed with the police.

According to the government, so far a total of 11 people were killed during protests in different universities in the region that began nearly a week ago. The government confirmed the death of seven people in Ambo town, 120 km west of the capital Addis Abeba on Wednesday when protesting students left their campus to join the inhabitants of the town who were also protesting the new master plan which proposed to annex vicinity localities administered by the Oromia regional state. However, unconfirmed reports put the dead as high as 20. The government said a branch office of the state owned Construction and Business Bank in Ambo town was also partially destroyed during the protest. In addition, three students were killed in Meda Walabu University in Bale, some 320km southwest of the capital Addis Ababa. In Haromaya University, some 500 km east of the country, a bomb went off during a football match screening at the University’s stadium injuring 70 students and killing one. Twenty of the injured have sustained serious injuries, according to a source in the university.

Here in Addis Abeba, students of the main campus at the Addis Abeba University have been protesting since yesterday, sparking a massive deployment Special Forces who sealed the compound o Friday preventing students from leaving campus. A planned meeting between the students and the senior management of the University including the president, Dr. Admasu Tsegaye, was cancelled prompting an edgy quietness in the campus. The government puts the blame on unnamed agitators operating from inside and outside the universities.  It also said public discussions with stakeholders were underway, which did little to convince protesting Oromo students.

Photo: Simon/twitter

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