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Ethiopia's anti-government protest intensifies, internet access 'blocked'

Ethiopia's anti-government protest intensifies, internet access 'blocked'


The anti-government protest since last weekend in Gondar in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia has intensified and spilled over to other regions demanding a regime change in the country.

Social media posts are calling on people to join in a repeat protest on Saturday in the Oromia region, while protests are also being scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in the Amhara region.

The protesters are demanding for the release of arrested activists while denouncing the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) led government affiliated to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) accused of marginalising the poor largest northern regions of Amhara and Oromia.

Just as last Sunday’s protest that saw tens of thousands of people defy thousands of security forces deployed to stop them, government media said no permission has been given for this weekend’s demonstration, local media report.

There are however unconfirmed reports of an internet blackout in the country ahead of the planned protests.

Friday protest

Local Ethiopian television station, ESAT, reported that two people were shot dead by security forces and a soldier was killed during a violent protest in Gondar on Friday.

It said that the protest was held at the city’s court house where one of the leaders of Sunday’s protest, Colonel Dameke Zewdu, was arraigned.

“Upon hearing that the Colonel was arraigned at the court, people flocked to the premises in their thousands calling for his release and denouncing the regime,” ESAT added.

Tense week

There were pockets of violence reported in some parts of the Amhara and Oromia regions during the week and the number of casualties cannot be confirmed.

Shops and government buildings were reported to have been shut since last Sunday.

On Tuesday, the security forces were reported to have opened fire at a funeral for two protesters killed on Monday during another protest. Scores were injured and two were killed, local media report.

Ethiopian government officials are yet to comment on the demonstrations but the regional government has said that it will address the people’s concerns.

U.S. restricts citizens

The United States embassy in Ethiopia has cautioned its employees and citizens to avoid personal travel to the Oromia region in anticipation of the planned protest during the weekend.

In a communique posted on its website, the U.S. embassy said it “anticipates that communications such as cellphone and internet could be disabled”.

“Travelers should anticipate traffic restrictions on main roads outside of major cities in Oromia due to road closures and gatherings, and an increased presence of federal police,” it added.

Photo Credit: Twitter (@Mpengwe)