Five-day strike in Ethiopia's Oromia region brings life to a standstill
By Africa News
August 24, 2017

Ethiopia’s Oromia region has been hit by a five-day shutdown called by the main opposition group – the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

The OFC says it has planned the protest to run from today (August 23) till Sunday August 27. The party said the call had been heeded with businesses and transportation service muted in most parts of the region.

Local media reports that the purpose of the strike is to remember protesters who were killed during the anti-government protests last year. It is also aimed at demanding the release of political prisoners arrested during the deadly protests.

The spreading protests led to the imposition of a state of emergency in October 2016. The six-month directive was earlier this month lifted by the parliament. It lasted a total of 10-months due to a four-month renewal in April this year.

The Oromia region is experiencing its second such protest this year. The first was in July when a tax hike by the government was resisted by a similar shutdown.

The OFC’s leader, Merera Gudina, is currently in detention awaiting trial on charges of terrorism. Thousands were detained during the protests that also hit the Amhara region. The government has since reported mass releases and says others have been processed for court.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government on Wednesday issued a safety and security alert for Ethiopia, citing clashes in parts of the country. They subsequently cautioned citizens to exercise caution.

A statement on its official portal read: ‘The Safety and security tab was updated – incidents on the road between Harar and Dire Dawa, and between Holeta and Ambo, on August 23.’ They did not state exactly the cause or nature of the incidents.

Harar and Dire Dawa are located in the east whiles Holeta and Ambo are located more in the central part in the Oromia region – close to the capital Addis Ababa.

Canada like most development partners of Ethiopia have lifted nationwide travel advisories in respect of the country but it cautions nationals to exercise a high degree of caution due to the volatile security situation.

The United States embassy in the country had earlier this month reported of ‘intense clashes’ in the eastern region – specifically between Harar and Babile.

The embassy said the fighting had led to the blockage of a major road connecting the east to the capital Addis Ababa. The government dismissed the claim saying only sporadic clashes had taken place. - An African-American news and views website.
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