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Ethiopia’s leader warns plotters following coup attempt

National
Seare Mekonnen

The coffin of assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen is taken away for burial after a state ceremony at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sobbed openly at the service Tuesday for the military chief who was assassinated by his own bodyguard over the weekend. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s prime minister has issued a strong warning to anyone who would plot to topple his government, following a coup attempt in the country’s northwestern Amhara region.

Addressing lawmakers on Monday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the attack in Amhara as an attempted coup.

“It was an act to steal power,” said Abiy. “The government is now taking measures to protect the constitutional order and arrest those behind the crime. … Power in Ethiopia will only be by those elected. This should be underlined.”

Abiy also said, “If there’s anyone who threatens Ethiopia’s sovereignty, we will fight them with a Kalashnikov, not with a pen. Ethiopia’s sovereignty is not up for discussion . we will give our lives for it,” he said.

On June 22, attackers shot and killed the Amhara governor and two other officials. On the same night in Addis Ababa, the country’s army chief and his close friend, a retired army general, were assassinated inside his residence by his bodyguard.

Ethiopia’s opposition are accusing Abiy of using the incident to arrest opposition figures, mainly those in the Amhara region, and stifling dissenting voices. The internet has been shut down since the violence, although some offices and hotels can access the internet through satellite connections.

The government has said it has arrested 225 people, suspected of involvement in the violence.

“Of the hundreds of people arrested following last week’s incident, only five have so far been brought to court in Addis Ababa. And those five are charged with terror related offenses,” said Eskinder Nega, a journalist and government critic, who charged that Abiy’s ruling party wants to politicize the anti-terror law.

While addressing lawmakers, Aiby confirmed more than 1,200 people were arrested in the past year on terror-related charges, for inciting ethnic- based attacks, for economic sabotage, illegal arms trade, illegal monetary movement and also for human smuggling.

He added some 1.1 million Ethiopians were displaced in the past one year and three months alone, totaling the number of Internally Displaced Peoples to 2.3 million people. But he remarked some 2.1 million of these have now returned to their localities.

But Ethiopians are complaining Abiy’s government has not stopped ethnic conflicts across the country that have claimed several hundred lives since it has come to power.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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