Fresh Boycotts in Oromia Cause Human Casualties
There are numerous reports of boycotts, roadblocks and violent clashes with security forces in many areas of Oromia Regional State. Social Media sites have also run wild with posts of violence and casualties in various areas.
BBC has reported transportation has ceased to and from Addis Ababa, which is surrounded on all sides by Oromia Region cities and towns. Sebeta, Welisso, Sululta, Burayu and Legetafo residents have effectively shut down economic activities, businesses, civic offices and have blocked all roads and modes of transportation.
Nekemte was hit with protests after recently released opposition party leaders were detained from participating in a welcome event organized by residents. The fresh boycotts arose after the House of People’s Representatives approved the State of Emergency by a majority vote, two weeks after it was declared by the Council of Ministers on February 16, 2018.
The farcical mistakes made in the counting of votes has gained major opposition; the Speaker of the House, Aba Dulla Gemeda has apologized for the error, saying the voting process was democratic.
However, this didn’t help lessen the uproar in various Oromia towns. Bekele Gerba, Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress has announced that his party’s executive committee has decided to sue the government regarding the declaration of the SoE and its ratification in the Parliament.
Now, Bishoftu (Debre Zeit), Shashemene and Jimma towns have reportedly joined the mass boycott and are in a turbulent standoff with security forces. This comes after The Head of the Command Post Secretariat, Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa, issued a statement on the relative peace and quiet in most parts of Ethiopia after the enactment of the SoE.
The number of casualties stands at more than 18 dead since the February 16th reinstatement of the SoE, though sources differ in their accounts, and some figures remain unverified. These numbers were gained from hospitals and residents in the Ambo, Nekemte, Guder and Ginchi areas.
The casualties have led to further public outcry from residents and several activists; the situation remains unstable and dangerously unpredictable. The Defense Minister has urged all Ethiopians to conduct business as usual, and not to be influenced by “information being circulated via social media to incite violence.” (Addis Standard)
The protests and boycotts, disrupting transportation and unjustified absence from the workplace are all deemed illegal by the SoE. Considering the direction taken by towns and cities in Oromia, an escalation in violence, destruction of property and loss of life seems very likely.