Explosion hits Ethiopia PM rally


The leader of the "Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization" (OPDO) Abiy Ahmed looks on during a news conference in Aba Geda, Ethiopia, 02 November 2017Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Abiy Ahmed became prime minister after his predecessor resigned in February

An explosion has shaken a rally for Ethiopia’s new PM Abiy Ahmed which was being attended by thousands of people in Addis Ababa.

Mr Abiy was taken away by security personnel immediately after the blast – thought to be from a grenade – in the Ethiopian capital’s Meskel Square.

Local media reports said several people had been hurt.

Mr Abiy became prime minister after his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned in February.

The Addis Standard news website quoted a police officer as saying it was a “minor explosion” and “only a few were hurt”.

Mr Abiy is the country’s first leader from the ethnic Oromo group, which has been at the centre of nearly three years of anti-government protests that have left hundreds of people dead.

One of their main complaints is that they have been politically, economically and culturally marginalised for years, despite being the country’s largest group.

The Ethiopian government has been accused of human rights violations including torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.

However since taking power Mr Abiy has begun reforms to relax the state’s previously tight grip on power. These have included unblocking hundreds of websites and TV channels.

On Friday an Ethiopian rebel group suspended its armed resistance against the government.

Ginbot 7, based in neighbouring Eritrea, said Mr Ahmed’s reforms had given it hope that “genuine democracy” may be “a real possibility”.

Who is Abiy Ahmed?

Mr Abiy is believed to have huge support among the Oromo youth as well as other ethnic groups.

He is leader of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), one of the four ethnic parties which make up the ruling the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.

Image copyright
Reuters

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There have been massive protests in Oromia in recent years

The 42-year-old, who was born in the city of Agaro in Oromia and comes from a mixed Christian-Muslim family, joined the OPDO in the late 1980s.

He has served in the military, founded the country’s Information Network and Security Agency, which is responsible for cyber-security in a country where the government exercises tight control over the internet, and then became the minister for science and technology.


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