Addis Ababa (AFP)
Tensions remained high in parts of the country after supporters of a high-profile opposition activist took to the streets Wednesday, burning tyres and blocking roads following rumours of his mistreatment by state forces.
“For the police, who are trying to test us, I think they got a good answer. Our people have proven that it is impossible to intimidate them.”
Police had denied reports that Jawar’s security detail was being removed to leave the popular and outspoken figure vulnerable to attack.
But for a second day running his supporters gathered in large numbers outside his residence after standing guard throughout the night, witnesses told AFP.
“All the people are at his house. People came even from outside Addis just to protect him. I walked eight kilometres (five miles) to get here. We are suspicious of the federal police,” said Ousman Abdulahi, one of Jawar’s supporters.
– Lives lost –
Four people were killed in Wednesday’s clashes in Oromia, one of nine regions in the ethnically diverse country, hospital and police sources said.
He did not elaborate on how the deaths occurred.
“We could replace the property which was destroyed but sadly we can’t get back people who lost their lives,” he said.
Witnesses said the atmosphere was tense in Adama on Thursday, with protests and road closures for a second day.
“There are protests again today. The roads are closed and no one is going to school. People are at home. The hospitals are closed and people who need treatment are not getting it,” said Tesfay Bekele, a resident in Adama.
As head of the US-based Oromia Media Network, Jawar played a crucial role in promoting anti-government protests that prompted Ethiopia’s ruling coalition to appoint Abiy as the first prime minister from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest.