Ethiopia troops kill 9 in anti-terror ‘mistake’

March 11, 2018

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and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here. Ruling coalition to choose new prime minister amid state of emergency Supporters in Ethiopia celebrate the release of a political prisoner last month. After Hailemariam Desalegn resigned as prime minister the government later declared a state of emergency © Reuters Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT John Aglionby, East Africa correspondent 11 HOURS AGO 2 Ethiopian soldiers enforcing the country’s state of emergency have killed at least nine civilians in what appeared to be a botched security operation, highlighting the tension in the country as the ruling coalition meets to select a new prime minister. The military said troops in the town of Moyale, in Oromia state close to the Kenyan border, acted on a “mistaken intelligence report” in an “anti-terrorist operation”, according to state television. At least a dozen were injured, local authorities said. Ethiopia has been rocked by almost three years of deadly protests against the authoritarian Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has ruled for 26 years.  In January, the government appeared to change from its traditionally repressive approach to handling dissent, announcing that it would release thousands of political prisoners and begin a process of national reconciliation. But after Hailemariam Desalegn resigned as prime minister last month the government declared a state of emergency in what appeared to be an attempt by hardliners to reassert control. Share this graphic   About 1,000 people have been killed in the unrest, which is motivated by demands for greater democracy and an end to the economic marginalisation of other groups by the Tigrayan ethnic group. Tigrayans dominate society but are only 6 per cent of the 105m population. The executive committee of the EPRDF, which is made up of four regional-based parties, began meeting on Sunday to choose Mr Hailemariam’s replacement. The meeting was expected to take at least two days.  The EPRDF is dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. But leaders of two of the parties which represent the Oromia and Amhara regions, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation and the Amhara National Democratic Movement, have in recent weeks intensified their demands for reform. Analysts say this is because the state of emergency, the second since the protests began in 2015, shows no sign of quelling the demands for greater democracy.  Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian political scientist at Georgia Gwinnett College in the US, said the killings in Moyale “will further divide an already-fractured coalition”. “Some factions from ANDM and especially the OPDO might ask whether the state of emergency and measures by the [security forces] would even push the country to chaos,” he said.  All four parties within the EPRDF have proposed candidates to replace Mr Hailemariam but there is no clear favourite. Analysts say that if the next prime minister is not from Oromia or Amhara the political crisis will be harder to resolve. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Latest on Ethiopia Analysis Africa politics Ethiopia struggles to damp discontent World Ethiopia bans protests in state of emergency  Review Biography & Memoir The Wife’s Tale by Aida Edemariam — hard times Special Report UK Corporate Productivity Outmoded infrastructure blamed for UK’s productivity slowdown World Ethiopian PM quits in sign of leadership split Africa politics Ethiopian regime struggles to quell growing unrest fastFT Ethiopia’s leadership in flux as prime minister resigns suddenly fastFT Ethiopia to release prominent political prisoners Follow the topics in this article Ethiopia Add to myFT John Aglionby Add to myFT Oromia Add to myFT Africa Add to myFT World Add to myFT COMMENTS (2) Sign in     + Follow Submit Comment Please keep comments respectful. By commenting, you agree to abide by our community guidelines and these terms and conditions. We encourage you to report inappropriate comments. Newest | Oldest | Most recommended Alem 2 hours ago "the numbers killed are totally unacceptable, but still a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by gun violence every single year in the US." This is standard Tigray Front (here Global witness) rebuttal for reports that out its cruelty. As I write this, the number of dead has climbed to 13 and over a dozen wounded. These are unarmed and not protesting at all. Tigray Front has issued a statement that these were killed by "mistake" (it was their mistake to be killed!) This is the exact phrase used by Derg fascists.  Let us put a "tiny fraction" in perspective. Ethiopia is fast becoming a slow motion killing field. Every single day 10-15 are killed in different regions by snipers and special forces under Tigray Front command. These add up. That is why the ruling party resorts to Internet blackouts and tapping phones and emails. News somehow gets out. The good thing is that world community is finally realizing what is going on behind the facade of "war on terror" by a terrorizing regime. That the much touted "peace and development" presents a harsher reality for the populace - especially children and young women (over 2 million are in the Middle East and thousands more fleeing the country every day). John Aglionby, you are fortunate to have not been in Ethiopia. You would have faced the same fate as William Davison and jailed and kicked out of the country for not reporting what Tigray Front wants you to report. Many foreign correspondents care more about their livelihood than human lives being wasted by a universally despised ruling party. Another fact is that you happen to be close to the location of the crime as many have now fled to Kenya.  Just so we remember, Prime Minister Hailemariam (who never had real power) was pushed out on account of the worsening corruption and repression and as preparation for the state of emergency. The irony is that his deputies and special advisers are still in power. Let me list few names. DebreTsion (deputy pm and in charge of security, telecom, economy, finance, Gerd), Arkebe, Zadig, Berhane, Abay, Seyoum, Sebhat (the latter two without portfolio), Getachew, Seare. Every one of these are Tigray Front members. Don't take my word for it. Two days after Hailemariam was pushed out, the ruling party issued a statement that "this is not military coup!" The urge for the preemption is bizarre. There was no need for a military takeover, as the country is already divided up under "command posts" with tanks and all. Similar to an occupying force! ReportShareRecommendReply Global witness 5 hours ago The author of this needs to get things in perspective. Yes, the numbers killed are totally unacceptable, but still a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by gun violence every single year in the US. Kind of an outrageous hypocrisy when US embassy, British embassy issue security warnings for Ethiopia. Does anyone remember when a Brit was last killed in Ethiopia? Years ago is the answer. Also, do me a favour and go visit Tigray, rather than sit writing your reports from Nairobi. You will then see what so-called economic marginalisation is all about. People trying to scrape a living from stony ground in semi-desert conditions. Compare that with the rich and fertile land in Oromia where they get two or even three harvests per year. And finally, if you study your history books you will find that Tigray has been marginalised for far longer than Oromia or Amhara. The epithet these people used to apply to Tigrayans translates as “under my foot”. Let’s have an end to this copy/paste journalism about Ethiopia and get some proper research done. 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