Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the murder of a popular singer and the subsequent violence that left nearly 100 dead this week represented “coordinated attempts” to destabilize the country.
Speaking during a meeting with high-ranking officials on Friday, Abiy did not identify who blamed the unrest, although he promised to hold those directly involved, as well as “those who are pulling the strings,” accountable, according to a summary of his comments distributed by his office.
Abiy, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, wore a military uniform during the meeting, part of which was broadcast on state television.
Singer Haacaaluu Hundeessa, a member of the Oromo ethnic group, the largest in Ethiopia, was shot dead in the capital Addis Ababa on Monday.
Protests immediately erupted in the city and the surrounding Oromia region.
On Thursday, authorities said 97 people had been killed by security forces and in inter-ethnic clashes.
Five people have been arrested in connection with Hundeessa’s murder.
Authorities have repeatedly suggested that the Oromo Liberation Army, a rebel group, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, an opposition party, were involved.
Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Nairobi, said the president stated that The violence was an attempt to instigate a civil war, but has now been thwarted.
“He [the president] He also said that the government is in the process of identifying not only the people who committed the crime of murdering the musician, but also those who incite violence in the country.
“In the past few days we have been hearing officials say that there could be some external forces, perhaps foreign countries, that could participate in these protests,” he said.
Abiy said opposition groups that benefited from the amnesties he granted when he came to power in 2018 were taking up arms “rather than presenting a winning case through political ideas and options.”
“A losing mindset cannot give birth to new ideas,” he said.
Three high-profile opposition leaders, including former media magnate Jawar Mohammed, have been arrested in connection with the riots this week, although authorities have provided few details about the cases against him.
On Friday, many companies and government offices reopened in Addis Ababa after being closed for several days, but the Internet remained closed across the country for the fourth day.
“Things have returned to normal, the security forces have taken control and the streets are quiet again at this time,” Soi reported.
The Oromo ethnic group
HundeessaThe 36-year-old Oromo-language singer-songwriter was buried Thursday under a heavy police and military presence in his hometown of Ambo, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
He was a leading figure in the successful anti-government demonstrations that lasted three years before Abiy, who hails from the Oromo ethnic group, came to power.
During the protests that led to the fall of the previous government in 2018, he became the voice of the Oromo people.
The Oromo are the largest ethnic group in the East African country, but have long complained of discrimination and rights violations.
Al Jazeera and news agencies