Two dead as land protest hits ancient Ethiopian city: activists
- Donald Trump Sworn in as 45th U.S. President
- Wall Street ends higher as Trump becomes president
- Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) Said to Face Antitrust Concern for Rite Aid (RAD) Fix - Bloomberg
- Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) Says It Won't Pursue Accelerated U.S. Regulatory Pathway for Opdivo Plus Yervoy in Lung Cancer
- Apple (AAPL) Sues Qualcomm (QCOM) Over Patent Royalties in Antitrust Case - Bloomberg
Get the Pulse of the Market with StreetInsider.com's Pulse Picks. Get your Free Trial here.
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Two protesters died in clashes with police in Ethiopia's ancient city of Gonder on Friday, campaigners said, as anger mounted over the status of a disputed territory - a highly-charged issue in a nation made up of a patchwork of ethnic groups.
Violence broke out as police brought one of the leaders of a land campaign movement to court, according to one person who said he had been in the crowd and asked to remain anonymous.
Amhara region president Gedu Andargachew did not mention any deaths but told journalists the protests were illegal and said security services would take measures against anyone who took part.
Any sign of unrest is closely watched in Ethiopia, a major Western ally against Islamist militants in neighboring Somalia and an economic power seen as a center of relative stability in a fragile region.
"Two protesters were shot and killed in Piassa," said one campaigner by phone, referring to a central district in the city.
Clashes carried on into the evening, said another, a rare public protest in a country whose government has been accused of cracking down on dissent. Roads were blocked and access to social media limited, he added.
Tensions have been rumbling for around 25 years over the status of Wolkayt district - a stretch of land that protesters from Amhara say was illegally incorporated into the neighboring Tigray region to the north.
The issue boiled over into violence two weeks ago when crowds came out in Gonder saying they were protesting against an attempt to arrest Wolkayt campaigners.
Government spokesman Getachew Reda said at the time six policemen were killed by the protesters and accused an "illegal committee" of stoking ethnic untest.
The dispute, while centered on a relatively small patch of land, is particularly sensitive because it challenges a division of Ethiopia along ethnic and linguistic lines, imposed by the core of the current ruling EPRDF coalition when it came to power in 1991.
After toppling Mengistu Haile Mariam's Marxist military dictatorship, the former rebels set up the boundaries that they said would recognize the country's different groups and prevent any one from dominating the others through a system of so-called ethnic federalism.
Protesters in Gonder - known as Africa's Camelot because of its ancient castles - say they had finally decided to take to the streets because they had got nowhere with years of petitioning senior officials, arguing that the Amharic-speaking people of Wolkayt belonged in Amhara.
The protests in the region come in the wake of months of unrest in the central Oromiya province, where demonstrators objected to having land incorporated into the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa.
The government was subsequently forced to scrap that plan.
(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
Serious News for Serious Traders! Try StreetInsider.com Premium Free!
You May Also Be Interested In
- Trump, in Oval Office, signs first executive order on Obamacare
- Nigerian secessionists greet Trump as help against Muslim north
- Trump is now president, but he still sees himself as leading an insurgency
Create E-mail Alert Related CategoriesReuters
Sign up for StreetInsider Free!
Receive full access to all new and archived articles, unlimited portfolio tracking, e-mail alerts, custom newswires and RSS feeds - and more!