Oromos, Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, are preparing for the annual Irreecha festival. The Oromia regional president Lemma Megerssa has also assured the media that preparations are underway to make it peaceful.
Megerssa, however, urged celebrants to make the day an apolitical one – by that; to refrain from displaying political flags and symbols.
Local media reports that the town of Bishoftu where the festival takes place is being prepared for Sunday’s festival.
The Addis Ababa city administration reported that volunteers from the capital had moved to Bishoftu – about 40km south of Addis to help residents clean the main site of the festival – the Hora Arsedi lake and surrounding areas.
#Ethiopia: As per info from #AddisAbeba city admin, volunteers from the AA are in #Bishoftu city, 40 km south of Addis, to join the city's residents to clean the Hora Arsedi lake & its environs, as well as the city, in preparation for Sunday's #Irreecha, the #Oromo thanks giving pic.twitter.com/WA6a9I6pt0— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) September 28, 2018
Last year, anti-government protests broke out at the festival. Despite being peaceful, people protested the events of 2016 when scores were killed and others injured.
The 2016 edition was marred by deadly chaos after security operatives were said to have fired live bullets towards protesting participants. Millions of attendees are expected to gather on this occasion at Lake Arsede, Bishoftu (Debre Zeit), and surrounding areas.
The Oromia state barred armed security at the 2017 edition which went peacefully. Current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is himself an Oromo. Beside leading the nation, he is also leader of the ruling party in the region, the Oromo Democratic Party, ODP.