Ethiopian gov't restores total internet access as normalcy returns in unrest-hit areas

Xinhua , Thursday 23 Jul 2020

Burned buildings following deadly unrest in the capital Addis Ababa
File Photo: Burned buildings which were set on fire by a mob during the violence after the assassination of Oromo's pop singer Hachalu Hundessa are seen in Shashamene, Ethiopia, on July 12, 2020. Hachalu Hundessa became a symbol of the Oromo struggle during years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, to power in 2018 (AFP)

The Ethiopian government on Thursday has restored total access to the internet after a total shutdown since June 29 following deadly unrest in the capital Addis Ababa and other parts of the country killing at least 239 people.

Deadly protests erupted in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, as well as various cities and towns in Ethiopia's largest Oromia Regional State as protestors went violent following a public outrage attributed to the death of a popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa, who was killed on June 29 by unknown people in Addis Ababa.

The incident triggered a total internet shutdown that has been in place since June 29, a move the Ethiopian government said has helped to control the situation and curb unwanted destruction by violent protestors who have "hidden personal agenda.

The Ethiopian government had restored limited WIFI internet access in Addis Ababa city on July 15. However, WIFI internet access wasn't released for the rest of Ethiopia until Thursday morning.

Mobile data internet access which was switched off just after Hundessa's death on June 29 was also restored on Thursday morning to Addis Ababa and across the rest of Ethiopia.

Mustefa Kedir, Oromo Police Commission, Acting Police Commissioner, told state media outlets earlier this month that 229 people, including nine police officers and five militia members, have been killed in unrest that swept Ethiopia's largest region Oromia in the days after Hundessa's death.

Kedir also said more than 3,500 suspects have been detained in Oromia region in connection with the recent unrest.

The 3,500 arrested included several security and civilian public leaders accused of failing to uphold their responsibilities during the deadly unrest in Oromia regional state.

In addition to the 229 people who were killed across cities and towns in the Oromia region, police in the East African country's capital Addis Ababa had also reported 10 casualties, including eight civilians and two police officers, as a result of deadly unrests in the city mainly on June 30 and July 1.

Addis Ababa, a multiethnic city of four million plus residents is completely surrounded by Oromia regional state, but is treated as an autonomous administrative part of Ethiopia.

Violence Instigated By Destructive Elements

The Ethiopian government said that "destructive elements" had used the death of the popular Oromo singer, Hachalu Hundessa, to instigate inter-ethnic violence both in the capital Addis Ababa and elsewhere in the East African country.

The government also vowed to bring individuals behind the death of the popular singer to justice as well as groups that are believed to have orchestrated the deadly violence in the capital as well as other cities and towns.

Ethiopian police forces had also disclosed the arrest of prominent Oromo politicians and activists for alleged involvement in utilizing the incident as a means to provoke inter-ethnic attacks both in Addis Ababa and other parts of the country.

Among the detained prominent Oromo politicians and activists include an Oromo media mogul and activist Jawar Mohammed as well as an opposition political party leader, Bekele Gerba.

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, in a televised address to the public in the aftermath of the incident also urged the public to remain calm and cooperate with security forces to avert destructive activities and restore peace in the affected areas.

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