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Ethiopia DM replaced after criticising PM Abiy amid ethnic violence

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 15 September 2019 [MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP/Getty Images]
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 15 September 2019 [MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP/Getty Images]

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office announced yesterday that he was replacing the defence minister, a fellow ethnic Oromo and former ally after he was openly critical of Abiy's political reforms.

As part of a cabinet reshuffle against the backdrop of recent ethnic violence in the country, Ahmed appointed Kene'a Yadeta as the new defence minister, replacing Lemma Megersa. Yadeta is a former security official in Oromia.

Ten appointments were announced on the Prime Minister's Office Facebook page, including Gedion Timothewos as the new Attorney General and the mayor of the capital Addis Ababa, Takele Uma, named Mines and Energy Minister.

Lemma opposed the formation of the Prosperity Party, which was established by the incumbent Prime Minister Ahmed last year as a successor to the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) with the hopes of uniting the country through a coalition of ethno-regional parties. Lemma was also formerly Ahmed's boss when he was president of the Oromia region.

READ: Pope calls for dialogue between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over Nile dam

Earlier this month the Oromia regional branch of the Prosperity Party announced Lemma had been suspended from its central and executive committees, although AP reports that it was unclear if he had ever actually joined the party.

Ethnic tensions gripped the country last month, following the murder of an influential singer and activist from the Oromo ethnic community, 34-year old Hachalu Hundessa. His death sparked protests from his supporters who took to the streets in several cities and towns, leading to clashes with security forces which left over 200 dead. There have also been numerous arrests, including a prominent Oromo politician and media mogul, Jawar Mohammed, who became a prominent critic of Ahmed and joined the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress.

One Twitter account run by an Oromo activist has shared several graphic images of victims of violence by the security forces, placing particular blame on the "psychopath noble peace winner" Abiy Ahmed. Ahmed was the winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, he became Ethiopia's first Oromo leader when he was appointed as the country's 4th prime minister in 2018 in recognition of his efforts to make peace with neighbouring Eritrea.

Abiy Ahmed recently congratulated the UAE and Israel over their peace deal, describing it as a "monumental decision to normalize relations between the two countries".

READ: Ethiopia FM: Egypt wants to monopolise Nile River waters

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