Ethiopian authorities have arrested over 170 people in the country’s Oromia regional state following a spate of deadly ethnic clashes, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting corporate reports.
Security officials say the suspects are accused of various crimes including incitement to violence, illegal land grabbing, looting and ethnically motivated attacks.
The Oromia region had previously been the epicenter of nearly three years of often deadly anti-government protests by ethnic Oromos who at the time felt marginalised by the central government.
The protests eventually led to the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn as Prime Minister. His replacement Abiy Ahmed took office in April 2018 becoming the first ethnic Oromo Prime Minister.
Abiy’s talk of reconciliation and inclusiveness has largely calmed the tensions but a spike in internal insecurity has gotten some political watchers and human rights groups worried.
In responding to the incidents last week, the PM warned that the government was not going to tolerate lawlessness stressing that it was the rule of law that is the glue and foundation that keeps the Ethiopian society united.
Human Rights Watch in a recent statement noted that Abiy’s reform ambitions could be gravely affected by the rising insecurity situation.
In 2017, the outbreak of violence between Oromo and their Somali ethnic neighbours displaced nearly 1.1 million people.
According to the UN humanitarian agency, more than 800,000 people fled violence along the Oromia and Somali regions’ border in the country’s southeast last month.