Several allies of Ethiopia have condoled with Ethiopians following a grenade attack that injured over 100 people at a rally organised in Addis Ababa on Saturday to express support for reforms by the new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.
“Building an independent nation is not the same as building a free society. What good is a free country, if we don’t enjoy freedom? If we are not free from fear? If we don’t have freedom of speech & expression? If we build dividing walls rather than bridges?” HE PM Abiy pic.twitter.com/ErdCjfA0Ol— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) June 23, 2018
The Ethiopian health minister, Amir Aman confirmed that one person had succumbed to their injuries, while at least 156 people were receiving treatment for injuries sustained during the grenade attack that happened this morning, just after Abiy finished his speech to the hundreds of thousands gathered.
Update at 5pm Summery— Amir Aman, MD (@amirabiy) June 23, 2018
Casualties seen = 156
Currently admitted = 51
Critical = 10
Death = 1
Media portal Addis Standard reported that six suspects have under custody and are being investigated, according to the Commissioner General of the Ethiopian Federal Police Commission, Zeynu Jemal.
Ethiopia’s allies express support
Messages of support have started pouring in from Ethiopia’s allies including the president of Djibouti, who described the attack as one done by people ‘who want to oppose the bold reforms to develop and strengthen national unity’ initiated by Abiy.
‘‘We reaffirm our commitment to Ethiopia’s stability as a strategic partner for the region’s economic development,’‘ president Ismail Omar Guelleh tweeted.
We reaffirm our commitment to Ethiopia's stability as a strategic partner for the region's economic development.#Ethiopia— Ismail Omar Guelleh (@IsmailOguelleh) June 23, 2018
Dear friend & colleague Ambassador Tekeda— Amb. Albert SHINGIRO (AShingiro) June 23, 2018
Ethiopia_UN, I'm very shocked to hear about the grenade attack at the rally of H.E Prime Minister of #Ethiopia causing several victims. We strongly condemn such attacks & stand in full solidarity with you, the Govt & people of Ethiopia
We extend our deepest condolences to the victims of the explosion in Meskel Square and their families and wish the injured a quick recovery. Violence has no place as Ethiopia pursues meaningful political and economic reforms.— U.S. Embassy Addis (@USEmbassyAddis) June 23, 2018
Heartfelt condolences from the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia to the Ethiopian people and the Ethiopian Government for the victims of today’s cowardly attack in Addis Ababa. #UnitedAgainstTerrorism— EU in Ethiopia (@EUinEthiopia) June 23, 2018
Abiy says ‘reforms will not be stopped’
Addressing the nation on television shortly afterwards, Abiy said the attack was an “attempt by forces who do not want to see Ethiopia united.”
Abiy had promised in his rally speech to bring more transparency to government and reconciliation to a nation torn by years of protests. When speaking on television, he was still wearing a green T-shirt handed to him by rally organisers.
Eritrea, which has long been at loggerheads with Ethiopia over a border row that Abiy has sought to resolve, also condemned the incident.
Abiy took office after his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned following protests that erupted in 2015 in the nation of 100 million people. Emergency law was temporarily imposed to quell the unrest and was lifted this month.
Despite boasting one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, opponents say the benefits have not been shared fairly between ethnic groups and regions in the country, which has been run by the same ruling coalition for more than quarter of a century.