Tuesday 21 November 2017

Protest over sugar in restive Ethiopia town kills two

Protest over sugar in restive Ethiopia town kills two
(AFP (eng) 10/27/17)
File Photo

At least two people were killed during a protest over the transportation of sugar in a restive Ethiopian town, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

An Ambo resident told AFP protesters blocked the town's main road after a rumour spread that trucks passing through were carrying scarce sugar on orders of the government.

Ambo was at the centre of a wave of anti-government protests that started in late 2015 and were temporarily quelled by the imposition of a 10-month state of emergency in October 2016.

Hostility to the government runs deep in Ambo, a university town 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa, and the belief that the sugar was destined for an area loyal to the government caused protesters to try to block the trucks' passage, a resident said.

Without giving details, a spokesman for the Oromia region, Addisu Arega, acknowledged two people were killed in the clash after the protests that began Wednesday.

"In protest and conflict in Ambo town, two precious people have lost their lives. And there were some injuries as well," Addisu wrote on Facebook.

"The Oromia regional state condemns the illegal people who are inflaming protests and initiating young people to violence in the relation to the search for sugar."

The resident, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, gave a higher toll, saying soldiers shot dead four people.

Ethiopia's largest ethnic group the Oromos inhabit the Oromia region and were at the forefront of the protest movement that initially began over a federal government proposal to expand the capital's boundaries, which the Oromos feared would lead to them losing their land.

The state of emergency, which was repealed in August, temporarily halted the unrest that killed more than 940 people and saw 22,000 arrested.

But protests have recently restarted in some towns in Oromia, particularly since the resignation of former Oromia president Abadula Gemeda as speaker of the country's lower house of parliament.

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