Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed has called on political parties in the Oromia region to refrain from trading in the name of the Oromo people and the region’s struggle, state affiliated Fana BC reported on Wednesday.
Abiy, who is an ethnic Oromo, was speaking at the delegates conference of the Oromo People Development Organisation party (OPDO), which he heads and represents in the ruling coalition.
Recent events in the capital and the Burayu town in the Oromia region that left at least 58 people dead according to Amnesty International, had ethnic undertones.
The unrest followed a mass rally last week marking the return to Ethiopia of the leadership of the exiled Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) group, which had fought an insurgency for self-determination for Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.
In Burayu, local residents said shops were looted and people attacked by mobs of Oromo youth who stormed through streets targeting businesses and homes of ethnic minorities.
Abiy urged Ethiopians to unite and work together to defeat those ‘who want to undermine national and Oromo unity’.
Since taking power, Abiy has lifted a state of emergency, freed political prisoners and removed leaders of banned groups including the OLF from a blacklist, paving the way for their return to the country.
But Abiy’s reforms have yet to halt ethnic violence. Clashes between Oromos and ethnic Gedeos in the south caused nearly a million people to flee their homes soon after he took power.
Oromia president calls for dialogue
Oromia region’s president and vice chairperson of OPDO, Lemma Megersa on Monday said the region would take full responsibility to rehabilitate victims of the attacks.
At the OPDO conference, Megersa urged political parties organised in the name of Oromo people to safeguard the ongoing reforms by resolving their differences through dialogue.
Thousands of delegates at the conference are expected to review the party’s performance for the last three years and consider proposals that have been put forward to change the organisation’s name, logo and anthem.