Ethiopia accused arch-rival Eritrea on Thursday of being behind anti-government protests in the Oromia region last year which led to a violent clampdown by the government in Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian government, however, has a reputation to routinely accuse Eritrea anytime it wanted to divert international attention from its domestic problems or as an attempt to cover up its own record of crimes up on the Ethiopian people.
At a press conference held in the capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s communication minister and government spokesman, Getachew Reda, said Eritrea has continued to deploy armed groups and bandits as part of its long standing position to destabilize his country.
All armed groups, he said, are being deployed to Ethiopia by Eritrea using some Ethiopian rebels or other armed groups the Red Sea nation harbors.
“We have concrete evidence that some of the people… involved and instigating violence in these particular localities… have their origins from Asmara,” the capital of Eritrea, said Getachew Reda.
Home to some 27 million people, Oromia encircles Addis Ababa and stretches over large parts of the rest of the country. It has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Amharic, the language of Ethiopia’s government.
Demonstrations erupted last November in Oromia to protest against a government plan to expand the capital city Addis Ababa.
The so-called Master Plan, which was eventually abandoned in January, fuelled land-grab fears among Oromo farmers, from the country’s biggest ethnic group.
Reda accused Eritrea of working in concert with two Ethiopian movements, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebel group and the Ginbot 7 opposition group exiled in the United States.
“The Eritrean government is not only working with OLF’s leftovers in Asmara but also with Ginbot 7, and they want to infiltrate all troublemakers into Ethiopia,” Reda said.
He added: “The protests that were being expressed by the people were based on legitimate concerns. But at a certain point, there were political elements involved in hijacking the process.
“What transpired… is an absolutely despicable case of criminal gangs roaming village after village and causing innumerable loss in lives.”
There was a brutal crackdown on the protests, which left over 200 people killed and thousands arrested, according to figures released in January by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In a report published Monday, HRW said the crackdown is still ongoing, asserting that killings and arbitrary arrests were still being reported almost daily.
Considering the level of the aggression, Reda said, “We have been taking proportionate measures in the past and we will take proportionate measures this time.”
The minister, however, refrained to reveal the type and level of those proportionate actions he said will be taken in response. In the past, Ethiopia attacked opposition military outposts inside Eritrea and urged Eritrea not to retaliate.
Eritrea accused Ethiopia for actively support, finance, train and harbor more than half a dozen anti-Eritrea armed groups on its soil that routinely launch armed attacks.
Evolution of the so called Ethiopian Government’s arguments, accusations, and warnings over the last four months about the protest in Oromia looks something like this:
Pre-protest : “All those who dare to oppose the implementation of the Addis Ababa “Master plan” would pay a high price!”
First days of the protest: ” All those who protest are devils sent by witches where the later couldn’t control the former. Therefore, the devils should be contained by military forces!”
Days into protests: ” Protesters have legitimate constitutional rights to demand the cancellation of the Master plan from implementation.”
Nowadays: ” Eritrea is responsible for all the problems in Ethiopia including the Oromo Protests”.
Bottom line: The minority regime in Ethiopia (aka TPLF) has missed the direction of ruling the country long ago, and they are now blaming the far and the near instead of stepping down and find durable solution. (by Juhar)