Thousands took to the streets in Addis Ababa to protest against ethnic violence targeting minorities and perpetrated by the country’s majority Oromo ethnic group.
Protesters condemned a weekend of violence in which 23 people of minority background were killed within the Oromo heartland. The government responded with an initial crackdown, arresting 200 people who were seen to be connected to the violence and has strongly condemned the attacks.
This escalation of violence comes as President Abiy Ahmed had invited back leaders from the formerly banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The Oromo population is the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, which has over 80 ethnic groups, and comprise about a third of the population.
The Oromo population remains sceptical of the government however, due to historic marginalization and a rising fear their land is being encroached on.
The current president came to power in February as his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, stood down after two years of violent anti-government protest. Since then Abiy has attempted to adopt a reconciliation strategy but has failed in curtailing violence within the region.
In a tweet on Sunday, Fitsum Arega, the prime minister's chief of staff stated: "Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed strongly condemns the killings and acts of violence against innocent citizens ... These cowardly attacks represent a grave concern to the unity and solidarity of our people & will be met with appropriate response."
“As many as 2.8 million Ethiopians were internally displaced, mainly due to ethnic-based attacks in various parts of the country,” UNICEF said in August.