Ethiopian prime minister escapes grenade attack at rally

Aaron Brown
June 24, 2018

Belay Manaye, a journalist in Addis Ababa, confirmed to CPJ that the outlets were accessible in Ethiopia.

Witness Seyoum Teshome, a member of the organising committee, told local media: "It was a grenade".

The movement rated the prime minister's speech at the Ethiopian parliament on Monday as encouraging and positive.

In another of Abiy's major policy shifts, the prime minister has said Ethiopia will open its state-run telecoms monopoly and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines [ETHA.UL] to private domestic and foreign investment, loosening the government's grip.

The first prime minister in modern Ethiopia from the country's largest ethnic group the Oromo, Abiy has announced major reforms such as liberalising the economy and pushing for a rapprochement with neighbour and arch-enemy Eritrea.

"Four or more police, they jumped on him and during that scuffle the grenade went off", Seyoum said.

"Love always wins. Killing others is a defeat", he said.

Eritrea, the country that has been hosting anti-TPLF rebel groups, announced today that it is sending delegation to Ethiopia to figure out next step for the peace talk proposed by prime minister Abiy Ahmed's government.

Mr. Ahmed was taken away by security personnel immediately after his speech in the capital's Meskel Square.

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"As of now, based on reports from police and hospitals, 83 people are injured".

Saturday's incident was condemned by Ethiopia's allies including the United States and Djibouti and - in a surprise move - Eritrea.

The explosion occurred shortly after Abiy finished speaking and was waving to the crowd.

Abiy's reforms have spurred some anti-government groups to seek rapprochement.

The blast came just as the master of ceremonies was welcoming viewers from overseas and said in English "this is the day that Ethiopia has become proud". "Some whose heart is filled with hate attempted a grenade attack", Abiy's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said on Twitter, adding: "The perpetrators will be brought to justice".

The United States has been among those in the worldwide community expressing support for the dramatic changes in Ethiopia, a key security ally in a turbulent region with neighbours including Somalia and South Sudan.

Ryan Cummings, a political and security risk analyst, said the attack on Saturday is unlikely to force Abiy to change course.

Ethiopia's sometimes deadly protests demanding more freedoms began in the Oromia and Amhara regions in late 2015 and spread elsewhere, finally leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early this year.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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