Ethiopia on Monday accused elements in Eritrea and Egypt for arming, training and funding groups that it blames for a wave of protests and violence in regions around its capital Addis Ababa, where protesters have targeted factories and accused the government land grabs.
The government declared a state of emergency on Sunday after more than a year of unrest in Oromia and Amhara regions, where protesters say the government has trampled on their rights in pursuit of development.
Speaking at a press conference in the capital, Addis Ababa, Information Minister Getachew Reda said that “there are countries which are directly involved in arming, financing and training these elements.”
“We have to be very careful not to necessarily blame one government or another. There are all kinds of elements in the Egyptian political establishment which may or may not necessarily be directly linked with the Egyptian government,” Getachew said.
He also said that “armed gangs” were receiving backing from Eritrea, though not necessarily have formal government support acting rather than “state actors”, AFP quotes him as saying.
Eritrea has a long-running border dispute with Ethiopia and Egypt has embroiled in a row with Addis Ababa over sharing Nile waters.
Egypt has dismissed previous accusations that it was meddling in Ethiopian affairs. “Egypt firmly respects the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries,” a Foreign Ministry statement said last week.
Eritrea routinely dismisses charges that it wants to destabilize its neighbour and instead accuses Addis Ababa of stoking unrest on its own soil.
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Defending the declaration of a state of emergency, the minister added:
“The kind of threats we are facing, the kind of attacks that are now targeting civilians, targeting civilian infrastructures, targeting investment cannot be handled through ordinary law enforcement procedures.”
Ethiopia has been ruled by the the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition since the overthrow of long-serving ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.
It won all the seats in the May 2015 parliamentary elections which were denounced as a sham by the main opposition parties.