• World - Africa
  • Updated: May 01, 2023

47 Arrested After Killing Of Ethiopia's Prime Minister's Party Leader

47 Arrested After Killing Of Ethiopia's Prime Minister's Par

Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopian security forces said on Sunday they had arrested 47 suspects after the murder of a leader of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's ruling party, accusing him of plotting to overthrow the regime.

Girma Yeshitila, the leader of the Welfare Party in Amhara's troubled northern region, was killed along with four others in an attack on Thursday.

Security forces said in a statement carried by public broadcaster EBC that the 47 people arrested are suspected terrorists who were found in possession of weapons, bombs, and satellite communications equipment.

"The suspects worked together locally and in foreign countries to take control of the regional government to overthrow the federal government by assassinating senior Amhara officials," the security forces said in their statement.

The murder of Girma was carried out by these "extremist forces", the statement added, without specifying the date of the arrests.

Girma, a member of the 45-member Prosperity Party's executive committee, was frequently targeted on social media by Amhara nationalists, who labelled him a "traitor" because of his proximity to Mr Abiy.

According to the Amhara regional government, "irregular forces" attacked the vehicles carrying Mr Girma, his bodyguards, and family members as they drove to Debre Birhan, a major town in the region about 100 kilometres northeast of Addis Abeba.

Amhara was the site of several days of armed unrest in April, sparked by the federal government's desire to dismantle the region's "special forces," illegal paramilitary units set up by Amhara authorities, as well as those of several other Ethiopian regions over the previous fifteen years.

Anger is all the greater on the part of the Amhara population because the Amhara "special forces" and the Fano, local "self-defence" militias, provided crucial assistance to the federal army in the conflict that opposed it from November 2020 onwards to the authorities of Tigray, which had entered into a rebellion against Addis Ababa.

Despite the peace agreement signed in Pretoria in November, Amhara and Fano's "special forces" still control the western part of Tigray, which they dispute with the Tigrayans.

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