Protests stormed at least eight towns of Ethiopia’s largest region Oromia on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ten people were killed and dozens wounded.
On Tuesday, protests were held in Ambo, Dodola, Shashemene and in Boke woreda.
In Ambo city, 119 km west of Addis Ababa, thousands took to the street in the morning from 10 am to 12 pm and roads.
According to a source who attended the protest, the people: Protested against alleged relocation of Ambo Mineral Water factory to Tigray region, Expressed support for detained opposition leader Dr. Merera Gudina, Chanted “down Woyane” and Oromos should not be displaced.
Social media users close to the regional ruling party OPDO/EPRDF claimed that the protesters chanted “Lemma Megersa is our president” in support of the region’s president. We couldn’t confirm the claim from sources on the ground or videos on social media. However, one source claimed a photo of House Speaker Abadula Gemeda was held at least by one protester.
A resident of Ambo told Duetch Welle that the Mayor received the questions of the protesters saying that “your questions are legitimate, we are with you”.
In Dodola, 287 km south of Addis Ababa, the demonstration was held on Tuesday afternoon. Local officials took part in the demonstration, a resident told Deutch Welle Amharic reported. According to the report, the protesters chanted: Down with the government, We should get adequate compensation (for industrial work?), Release imprisoned opposition leaders, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa belong to Oromo.
Shashemene, 250 km south of Addis Ababa, and Boke, west Hararghe, experienced big rallies on Tuesday, calling for the downfall of the ruling party.
The spokesperson of the region told Deutch Welle Amharic on Wednesday that three people were killed in Shashenene, another three in Boke, after the protests turned into disturbances. Later on VOA Afaan Oromo, the spokesperson said some protesters in Shashemene “provoked” nearby soldier leading to the shooting.
The mayor of Shashemene told BBC Amharic that two federal police and one army soldier were detained in connection with the killing.
On Tuesday evening, shortly before midnight, the regional ruling party, OPDO, issued a statement distancing itself from the protests and denouncing “the forces behind it”.
Unlike last July when regional officials described the then protests as legitimate, Tuesday’s statement characterized the current protest as driven by anti-peace forces and malicious motives.
On Wednesday, protests and incidents were reported held in Borena, Guder, Woliso and Begie.
In Borena zone, around Mega city, about 688 km south of Addis Ababa, 4 people were killed and at least a dozen wounded on Thursday when a crowd attempted to block a military convoy. According to local people, rumors spread alleging the military supply was transporting supplies to the special police of Somali region, which is said to have been involved in the recent conflicts with Oromia. A crowd attempting to block the vehicles clashed with the soldiers escorting the convoy.
In Woliso, thousands took to the street on Wednesday morning. A local told Deutch Welle that protesters chanted “Down, down Woyane”, “We don’t want EPRDF”, “We Oromos will administer ourselves”, “[Oromia president] Lema Megersa is ours”, “Release Merera Gudina”, “Stop harms on Oromo” and “Stop harming Amhara”.
A university lecturer observed the local officials were watching the rally with smiles. A video shows an elder giving traditional blessings to some protesters. Oromia police fired tear gas after some protesters who threw stones at the police and vehcles, two people were injured.
A source informed HornAffairs that there were protests in Begie and Guder in Wednesday. Begie is located about 680 km west of Addis Ababa close to Sudanese border and Guder is located 130 kilometers west of Addis Ababa, on the main road connecting Addis Ababa – Ambo – Nekemte. We didn’t get details about the two areas at the writing of this news. Long distance buses passing through Guder were slowed down for about half-an-hour due to the crowed, but were not attacked.