Young peace, popular and preaching, prime minister Abiy Ahmed has accelerated reform in all sectors in Ethiopia since taking office in April. But its radical and transformative agenda has faced opposition – more than those from within the country.
On Monday (November 12), attorney general Berhanu Tsegaye said evidence showed senior members of the state security branch arranged an attack on Abiy at a rally in June, according to Reuters. Two people were killed and dozens were injured after a grenade exploded at a political meeting in the capital Addis Ababa attended by Abiy.
The government issued arrests for 36 officials from branches of the security forces including the national security agency, federal police forces and Addis Ababa.
"The evidence we collected shows that the senior leadership of the national security agency instructed Oromos to carry out the attack because it meant that the prime minister – Oromo – was killed by Oromos," the attorney general said. "That would (also) give the impression that he was not supported by the Oromo population."
A total of 26 officials from the military-run Metal and Engineering Company also appeared in the court where they were denied bail. METEC was once responsible for building a $ 4 billion dam project on the Nile, which is expected to be the largest hydroelectric project in Africa, but overthrown from the contract in August.
Arrests and charges show that Abiy 'efforts to change Ethiopia after decades of authoritarian rule will be easier said than done. Since rising to the head of the ruling 42-year-old coalition of the ruling People's Democratic Democratic Front, it has ended internet blackouts, dismissing allegations against the diaspora-based media, freeing government detainees and critics, involving exiled opposition groups, pointing to unprecedented. 50% of the women's cabinet, and improving relations with the country's old neighbor enemies, Eritrea.
But the reforms have also been damaged by domestic challenges. These included ethnic clashes in eastern Somalia, deadly flag protests, and riots in the capital and surrounding areas which led to dozens of killings, mass arrests and internet terminations.
The current situation also shows the fragility surrounding rapid political reform, and the question of whether and how the nation of 100 million can avoid ethnic divisions to achieve a united future. This is especially true in the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front, an ethnic minority party that was once the dominant force in state politics until Abiy rose to power.
Abiy had delivered the message "medemer," or togetherness, as opposed to ethnic compartmentalization – but yesterday's arrest showed that he was now ready to be difficult to save his own inheritance.
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