February 22, 2020
Another Oromo official has been gunned down in Oromia region of Ethiopia, as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) continues to hunt down supporters of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Burayu town security chief Solomon Tadesse was assassinated today by what officials described as agents of the OLF’s Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).
Oromia Police blamed the OLA according to BBC and it said a “killing squad” targeted several regional officials as well as an Oromo musician and other civilians. Social media sources claimed the unidentified Oromo artist victim was Dereje Jalata, but there was no independent confirmation.
These killings follow a tense week of anti-government propaganda by supporters of Jawar Mohammed, including his Oromia Media Network (OMN) that falsely claimed Burayu local police and the Prime Minister are responsible for a recent assault on an Oromo singer Hawi Keneni. However, the Burayu administration contradicted these allegations, instead claiming that the brawl started due to a dispute on a selection of Oromo music during an event. Other sources confirmed that Hawi and her group wanted nationalist music in support of armed insurgency in Walaga.
Since Jawar Mohammed and Abiy Ahmed split on policy in 2019, there has been a rise on Oromo vs Oromo violence. In October 2019, dozens of Oromos and other Ethiopians were massacred by supporters of Jawar Mohammed. The riots were inspired by fake news on social media that claimed the Abiy government wanted Jawar assassinated. Particularly, various Oromo supporters of Abiy in Adama town were targeted and some killed when they refused to join the Qeerroo protests in October supporting Jawar, according to AFP.
Since late 2018, killings of Oromo mayors and local officials has been carried out by OLA and another clandestine group known as Aba Torbe. While assassination of Oromo officials in Western Oromia was frequent in recent years, such killings close to the capital Addis Ababa has been rare, until now. Despite OLF political leadership pledging to engage peacefully in the 2020 election, its military leadership continues to wage war on the government and peaceful citizens in Walaga.
The pattern of deadly attacks, robbery and damages on property has forced Abiy Ahmed’s government to begin crackdown in at least four Zones of western and southern Oromia.
Meanwhile, since Jawar Mohammed took over the opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), there is growing internal division and polarization in Oromo society. In many rural areas, Oromo supporters of Abiy are coerced to support Jawar’s party to avoid vilification and castigation. There is also widespread reports of pressure and intimidation on nonpolitical segments of Oromo society by Jawar’s camp. In some cases, openly displaying support for the Prime Minister or a party other than Jawar’s is risking physical harassment up to death by clandestine assassins like Aba Torbe.
Editor’s note : This news analysis is provided by Teshome Borago. If you would like to submit stories or share information, please send e-mail to : firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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