Ethiopia: Dark days for Africa coups d’etat

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The Ethiopia military coup attempt is clear failure by the dark forces to retard popular democratic progress in the African region

Ethiopia mourns after army chief, top officials killed

AFP News, 24 Jun 2019

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took to national television dressed in military fatigues and described the situation in Amhara as an attempted coup.

The death toll from two attacks believed linked to an attempted coup in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara state rose to five on Monday, as flags flew at half-mast on what was declared a national day of mourning.

Police were hunting for Amhara’s security chief Asaminew Tsige, accused of masterminding an attack on the leaders of the state and suspected of playing a part in the killing of the country’s army chief in Addis Ababa.

The attorney general of Amhara state, Migbaru Kebede, died of gunshot injuries from the attack on Monday, state broadcaster EBC reported, making him the fifth victim of the violence.

The unrest has delivered another major challenge for Ethiopia’s young Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has embarked on a series of reforms in a bid to open up the authoritarian state which have unleashed ethnic tensions and bitter political rivalries.

The attacks, whose exact motives remain unclear, began on Saturday afternoon when gunmen attacked a meeting of top officials in Amhara, the second-largest of Ethiopia’s nine autonomous states.

Amhara president Ambachew Mekonnen, who was an ally of Abiy’s, as well as his adviser were killed, while Migbaru succumbed to his wounds on Monday after what Abiy described as an “attempted coup” in the region.

A few hours later in an upmarket suburb of the capital Addis Ababa army chief Seare Mekonnen, who was co-ordinating the response to the unrest in Amhara, was shot dead by his bodyguard. A visiting general was also killed.

Abiy’s office said the killing of Seare “seems like a co-ordinated attack”, however there have been no further official details and observers point out that there were no telltale signs of a concerted national coup.

A statement from his office announced that the bodyguard and other perpetrators had been arrested, while a police source on Sunday told AFP that Asaminew was still on the run.

Asaminew was only last year released from almost a decade in prison over a 2009 coup plot under an amnesty.

Analysts describe him as a hardline Amhara nationalist who was likely facing removal from his job over efforts to form a militia and rhetoric pushing for territory in neighbouring Tigray to be reclaimed.

He recently appeared in a Facebook video calling for civilians to arm themselves in preparation for attack.

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