Ethiopia president survives assassination attempt

Ethiopia’s president survived an assassination attempt on Friday during a political speech that began with a pledge to punish supporters of his opponent who were accused of “excessive force” when protesters were shot dead.

Elected this month following months of unrest that killed hundreds, Alemu Teshome’s security detail said they came under fire while greeting supporters on a street in Addis Ababa.

Ayisha Makanera, a spokeswoman for the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), told Reuters “several persons were treated for minor wounds” during a ceremony at the nearby headquarters of the presidential office.

Celebrations have been held at party headquarters, and security agencies have removed a large number of street musicians from the scene.

So far, there have been no reports of further attacks and security officials urged the public to remain calm.

Makanera said: “It is not a question of incitement to violence. This was an incident that happened from time to time, political, emotional.”

Demonstrations began two years ago over land rights and anger at what the opposition says is the marginalisation of the Oromo people.

A new government backed by the international community has announced it will respect the ruling body on Oromo land rights and address grievances in the region, which encompasses the capital, after hailing Oromo gains as one of the key achievements of its reform programme.

But the unrest in the Oromia region shows no sign of abating, despite a vow by the new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, to tackle endemic corruption, nepotism and human rights abuses.

A major activist, Bersha Wolde, was reported missing, with colleagues saying he had been tortured while being held by security agencies.

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