Recently a wave of anti-government protests has created unrest throughout Ethiopia. Thousands of people including men, women, children, youngsters, and even senior citizens are crossing their forearms above their heads as a sign of protest against the corruption of the Ethiopian Government. The protests started in the Oromo Region before spreading all over the country.
The Start of the Oromo Protests in Ethiopia
In the town of Amhara, violence broke out when a security guard fired into the crowd. The protests started from personal land rights and expanded to economic, civil, political, and cultural rights. It was on October 9th, 2016, about 50 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, that 100 people were killed in a confrontation between security forces and protesters. Protesters blame foreign companies and agencies seizing their lands to build factories.
This resulted in the death of a US Citizen who was a biology researcher. She was in the country to attend a meeting. The U.S Embassy has confirmed that she was killed when protesters threw stones at her car. Moreover, a construction engineer was also killed during this state of disturbance. A plant and flower farm was also overrun by a crowd near Addis Ababa. Some protesters broke into a Turkish textile firm as well and damaged it badly.
According to the Ethiopian government, approximately 50 people lost their lives, but according to the Human Rights Watch, nearly 500 people were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters.
The Backdrop of the Protests
The current government was established in 1991 when long-term dictatorship in Ethiopia came to an end with the unforgettable sacrifices of rebels of the EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front). Now, all these rebels who were supporting the Ethiopian government so far are now opposing them.
They claim the Ethiopian Government only acts upon the policies of “Tigrayans”, an ethnic group representing only 6 percent population, and destroys the fate of 100 million people because, in the 2015 elections, the opposition party could not win a single seat out of 547 seats in the Ethiopian Parliament. Before that, from 1991 to the 2015 elections, there was only a single seat opposing the government.
It is said that the rapidly increasing unemployment rate in Ethiopia forced people to get on the streets and fight for their rights. Protesters blame the government for not providing their youth with proper jobs and welcoming foreigners instead of decreasing the national unemployment rate. They say that their youngsters sit idly on the streets and roads all day looking for some work or job.
Protesters are Unorganized
A major defect in this protest movement is the lack of an organizing body and harmony to guide the protesters because they don’t have a central leadership, which is causing clashes and loss of lives and assets. Recently, a few bloggers that criticized the government were arrested and the internet went down for two days in the region.
When it comes to the future of the government and the EPRDF, opinions differ from person to person. Some people say that the EPRDF should take steps for a transition of government, bringing a change to the country to avoid further losses. Others say that the EPRDF must suite itself and bring about reforms and policies for the next national elections that are to be held in 2020.
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