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Protesters in Harar Demand End to Military Presence in Western Ethiopia

By Staff Reporter

Harar-EthiopiaJanuary 29, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- A three-day strike is being held in the city of Harar of eastern Ethiopia demanding the government to end the military rule in the western part of the country.

Government offices, banks, and business establishments are closed as transportation services were totally disrupted as the strike continues, Eyewitnesses told Ezega.com.

The strike is believed to be motivated by government offensive in some parts of Oromia state in search of militants from the Oromo Liberation Front, otherwise knows as OLF Shene.

Some traders who opened their business establishments in the morning on Wednesday were forced to shut down by protesters who demanded the government stop attacks on the people of Wellega and command post rule in a restive area of the Oromia region in western Ethiopia.

According to the eyewitnesses, there has not been looting or burning of properties but the protesters made up of ethnic Oromo youth were burning tires on the main streets of the city disrupting the transportation services.

Similar strikes were also called in nearby towns, including in Kobo and Aweday, where government offices, banks, and business establishments are not functioning.

The transportation services have stopped in the city even though police have removed some of the blockade, the eyewitnesses added.

The government admitted that telecommunication services have been cut in west Wellega, Oromia region in an effort to weaken the activity of the rebel OLF Shene, which is believed to have kidnapped university students and other people recently. The armed group has also been engaged in the killing of government officials and bank robberies since it entered the country to pursue peaceful political activities in mid-2018.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has confirmed that at least 75 supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were arrested over the weekend from various places in different parts of Oromia Regional State, as Ethiopian authorities intensify the crackdown on different forces ahead of the general elections.

“The return of mass arrests of opposition activists and supporters is a worrying signal in Ethiopia. These sweeping arrests risk undermining the rights to freedom of expression and association ahead of the 2020 elections,” said Deprose Muchena.

According to Amnesty International, the Arrests took place across the state including in Finchawa town in West Guji Zone of Oromia, and Shambu town in Horo-Guduru Wallaga Zone of Oromia.

However, the latest arrests are believed to be targeting the militant wing of the Oromo Liberation Front, otherwise known as OLF Shene. This group, along with their supporters in the rest of the country, is believed to be behind the turmoil going on in and around Oromia today, Harar being the latest spot.

Many people in social media characterized Amnesty International’s report as “unfair and unbalanced,” questioning its grasp of the facts on the ground or its neutrality, given that it did not voice concerns when many innocent people were killed and students abducted by the rebel group.

The Ethiopian Parliament delisted OLF and other political opposition groups from the terror list in 2018 before groups like the OLF Shene laid down their arms.

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