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Mass arrests in Ethiopia after coup bid

A view of the square in front of the National Theatre of Ethiopia where the national flag is half lowered as the nation mourns in Addis Ababa on June 24, 2019. AFP PHOTO


Scores of people with links to an ethno-nationalist party in Ethiopia’s Amhara state have been arrested after an attempted coup in the region, a party spokesman said Thursday.

“In Addis Ababa alone, 56 of our members and sympathisers have been arrested while dozens other NaMA (National Amhara Movement) sympathisers and members in Oromia have also been arrested,” said party spokesman Christian Tadele.

“The campaign of arrests against NaMa members and sympathisers isn’t just directed against a party, but is also an identity-based attack,” Christian said.

Other arrests have also taken place as the government scrambles to contain a political crisis highlighted by the attempt to take over the state government in Amhara — the second-largest region — which left three top leaders dead.

The Saturday attack is believed to have been linked to the murder of the army chief Seare Mekonnen by his bodyguard in Addis Ababa.

The violence is seen as a backlash to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s efforts to lead democratic reforms in Africa’s second-most populous nation.

His loosening of the reins in the long-authoritarian state has stirred up in ethno-nationalist sentiment in the nine autonomous regions divided along ethnic lines, and fuelled jockeying for resources and power.

Ethnic violence has displaced over two million people in the country.

An employee of the attorney general’s office in Addis Ababa told AFP he had seen several of his colleagues arrested in their offices since Monday.

Elias Gebru, a journalist and a civil society activist based in Addis Ababa, said three of his colleagues had been arrested and appeared in court Tuesday on accusations they assisted in the coup bid

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