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Oromo region authorities warn off consequences for protest

Ethiopian government accuse “some forces” of planning protest in Oromo region of Ethiopia

Oromo region _ wollega
Google Map of Wollega region- where there has been repeated assassinations of government officials.

June 3, 2020

Ethiopian government state of emergency legislation which was introduced as part of the prevention measures against the spread of Coronavirus is still in place.

Yet, Oromo regional state is manifesting concern due to a planned demonstration in the region. There are no answers at this writing as to exactly who is organizing, apparently clandestinely, the protest, and when it is happening.

But the government claims that “some political forces” are mobilizing for a protest which understood as a bid to grab power.  From what government authorities in the region say, it appears to be the case that multiple political actors are mobilizing for the demonstration.

“The protests will make the people vulnerable to the Coronavirus disease, and people need to give priority to health,” Addisu Arega, social sector coordinator of the region, is cited as saying in a report published by state media – Ethiopian News Agency.

In a news video shared by the state media, he encouraged residents in Oromo regional state of Ethiopia “not to be lured” by calls for a protest.

If people in the region have demands, it is possible to present them in the “right way,” but anything outside of that “the government has the capacity and ability to enforce the rule of law,” – he said.

He made serious allegations that those who are calling for protest are standing against the national interest and people should be cautious not to stand with them.

One of the top officials in the region, Addis Arega, went to the extent of linking the organizers with a move to play a mercenary role to Egypt – a country that has long been accused of exploiting political forces to destabilize the country.  There is an internal actor implicated in what the government called an attempt to destabilize the region and the country – Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

He emphasized that the fight against the spread of Coronavirus disease is a priority.  About 3700 people are arrested in the region over violation of the state of emergency measures relating to social distancing, he revealed.

Rising political tension in the region and assassinations

Ethiopia has seen a rise in the crime rate and lawlessness since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took over power in April 2018. Much of it happened in Oromo regional state of Ethiopia.

Contending political forces whose stated political goal is to “struggle for the freedom of Oromo people,” are criticizing his government over human rights violations. They reported arbitrary arrest and widespread repression in the region.

Some even claim that Abiy Ahmed is not an “Oromo.”

On the other hand, many say that the latest report from Amnesty International regarding rights violations in the region is informed by radical political forces including the activist Jawar Mohammed – who professes to command millions of social media army.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government was also criticized for failing to enforce the rule of law.  In late October 2019, at least 86 civilians were brutally massacred in the region following Jawar Mohamed’s facebook update about his safety.  And he is walking free. This week, a top authority in the region mentioned it as a case in point to demonstrate the government’s “patience.”

In late December 2019, about 17 Dembi Dollo University students were kidnapped in the region and their whereabouts are unknown to date.

The government is yet to give answers to parents who have been demanding to know if their children are dead or alive.  Many tend to think that the armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is behind the killings and assassinations in the region.

There have been numerous assassinations in the region. In February of this year, Burayu police commissioner was shot dead as he was having lunch with three other people. 

Ethiopia _ OLF armed wing soldiers _ Oromo
Captured soldiers from what is said to be “armed wing of OLF” have govenment soldiers uniform. Photo : Social Media

The latest string of assassinations, which happened this week, has claimed the lives of four police officers in Nekemte town. Seven of the assassins were shot dead in the ensuing shootout following the assassinations, and three of them were captured.

A police sergeant who is identified as Debela is reportedly assassinated on Wednesday.

The Federal government has deployed members of the defense force in the region for nearly a year now in response to unending assassinations in the region.

Radical and radicalizing political forces in the region who do not accept Abiy Ahmed’s administration give the impression that they can keep his government to its toe.  They see that his government is illegitimate beyond September 2020 which is the end of the term of the government.

With the need to postpone the election due to the coronavirus crisis, Abiy Ahmed has initiated what the government called “constitutional means” to legitimize the decision about the general election. 

The political resistance to it in Oromo region of Ethiopia seems to be taking a dangerous turn due to the activities of the armed group. A killing squad in cities and towns is said to be active and targeting government officials.

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  1. The region’s authorities should be walking the talk. Lawlessness they are facing now in some areas could be leeching into other areas in the region putting innocent civilians in grave danger. Authority always comes coupled with responsibility. They are paid generously by the tax payers for a variety of assignments that includes keeping their communities safe from hooligans and rowdy mobs instigated my smart alecks. Failing to do this will spell nothing but trouble everywhere. If the law enforcement is found to be incapable of taking on the hooligans like Shane and Aba Torbe then citizens will be forced to protect themselves. Armed vigilante groups will start mushrooming everywhere leading toward utter anarchy. That is one of the reasons we see now arms smuggling booming. I am sure the region’s authorities understand they have a vast area and a huge population in their hands. They are entrusted with it. They have to keep law and order so wanton violence will not prevail over peace. If the region descends into out of control chaos it will eventually spill over to other regions and spread like wild fire. It is not and won’t be funny. These so-called and self-designated leaders of opposition groups should take a lesson or two for a change and learn how to blunt their wiggling tongues. Fishing in the troubled waters at the cost of citizens’ well-being has never worked in the old country.


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