Ethiopia’s “Joint Security Task Force,” established in the context of the state of emergency under the Prime Minister’s leadership, announced on Thursday that it thwarted a plot aiming to turn Addis Ababa into a center of “turmoil and violence.” The Joint Task Force – whose members are drawn from the military, security, and government executives – alleged the receipt of a terrorist mission orchestrated by certain groups – implicating Fano and Shene forces.
Furthermore, it asserted the arrest of 97 individuals “clandestinely” involved in orchestrating this alleged mission. This disclosure coincided with reports of arrests of coordinators of an Anti-War peaceful demonstration in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Citing a statement from the task force, the Ethiopian News Agency, a state-owned media outlet, reported that those apprehended are linked to “terrorist groups” in the Amhara and Oromia regions.
The planned demonstration garnered substantial coverage from Ethiopian news outlets based in the country and abroad. Organizers had duly notified the Addis Ababa City Administration Security Division 12 days ahead of the event, as the Ethiopian Constitution requires notification of the event to relevant government authorities 48 hours before the event. However, the City Administration banned the peaceful demonstration, citing “security concerns amid the current national situation.”
Six months ago, Abiy Ahmed’s administration initiated a military operation in the Amhara region, under the pretext of disarming the Fano movement. Initially planned for two weeks, the government’s efforts to dismantle the Fano movement escalated to drone strikes and artillery shelling, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians, as confirmed by Human Rights Organizations. And it took more than six months.
The Ethiopian government’s Joint Security Task Force further claimed an endeavor to “infiltrate armed groups into Addis Ababa” and reported that it seized firearms. It implicates the Anti-War peaceful protest and its organizers, indirectly accusing the planned peaceful demonstration participants affiliated with various opposition political parties.
Moreover, the task force alleged that the intention was to target innocent civilians under the guise of a peaceful protest.
“The Government must ensure the rule of law in Addis Ababa and across the nation, and the Joint Task Force is taking decisive actions,” The Task Force was cited as saying.
It also noted that random searches were conducted in Addis Ababa and the arrest of what it called “collaborators” working with “anti-peace forces,” confirming recent reports of a widespread crackdown in the city.
Amidst the ongoing conflict in the Amhara region following a devastating two-year war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and ongoing fighting against the insurgency movement by radical ethnic Oromo nationalist forces in the Oromia region, the organizers of the Anti-War peaceful demonstration expressed their belief that Ethiopia can no longer afford to be in war. The humanitarian disaster from the war is extensive with reports of hundreds of civilian deaths. They planned to demand the government end the war and resort to peaceful negotiation. The government calls their move ” a terrorist plan to create turmoil and violence in Addis Ababa.
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