ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Six suspects were investigated on Saturday at a rally by new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over a grenade attack that killed one person and left him wounded.
The attack came to an end just after 41-year-old Abiy, a former soldier who took office in April, delivered his speech to tens of thousands of people in the center of the capital, Addis Ababa.
Earlier, a witness saw Abiyy being chased away by guards. Another witness told Reuters that the grenade attacker had been knocked down by the police before the explosion.
"Six suspects are currently under investigation for involvement in the attack," the federal police commission said in a statement.
Health Minister Amir Aman said on Twitter that one person had been killed and 1
The Ethiopian State Broadcasting Corporation said Abiy and his deputy Demeke Mekonnen visited Black Lion Hospital, where 86 of the victims were treated.
Shortly after the explosion, he turned to the nation on television and still wore a green T-shirt. He was presented at the rally, Abiy said, the attack was an "attempt by forces that do not want to see Ethiopia united."
Abiy had promised the crowd in Addis Ababa's Meskel Square to bring more transparency to the government and reconciliation to a nation of 100 million people, which has been torn apart by protests since 2015.
Eritrea, long in the dust With Ethiopia over a border dispute that Abiy had tried to solve, he condemned the incident as did the European Union and the United States.
Abiy took office after his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned in February following protests that killed hundreds of people between 2015 and 2017.
The Emergency Law was temporarily introduced to quell the riots and lifted this month.
Despite one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, opponents say that the benefits between the ethnic groups and regions in the country, which has been led by the same governing coalition for more than a quarter of a century, have not been fairly distributed.
Abiy traveled the country, promising to deal with grievances and address political and civil rights.
Following Saturday's blast, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff wrote on Twitter: "Some whose hearts are full of hate tried a grenade attack."
"All victims are martyrs of love and peace." HE PM speaks to the victims His condolences, the perpetrators will be brought to justice, "wrote Fitsum Arega.
The US embassy in Addis Ababa said, "Violence has no place, since Ethiopia is carrying meaningful political and economic reforms." 19659018 PEACE INITIATIVE
Rally organizer Seyoum Teshome told Reuters he had seen five people injured in the blast. "It was a grenade, someone was trying to put him on the premier's stage," Seyoum said.
In addition to promising economic reforms, Abiy stunned Ethiopia this month, saying he was ready to fully implement a peace agreement with Eritrea, signed in 2000 after a two-year war. For years, Ethiopia refused to implement the agreement and said it wanted more talks.
The stalemate led to a military build-up and sporadic clashes on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which split in 1991 after a long war of Independence from Ethiopia.
Under the terms of the 2000 peace agreement, Ethiopia must cede the border town of Badme to Eritrea. But war veterans in Badme and ethnic Tigrayans along the border oppose the peace initiative, with some city dwellers saying they will not leave the city.
Eritrea's ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki, wrote on Twitter that his nation "sharply condemned the attempt to incite violence in Addis Ababa and called the rally a" demonstration of peace. "
Ethiopia's ruling EPRDF is made up of parties representing the country's four largest ethnic groups, Abiy is from the Oromo ethnic group and accounts for about one-third of the population.
Oromos led along with the ethnic group Amhara group since 2015 street demonstrations against the government, which began as protests against a development plan around the capital and claimed by opponents that the state is exploiting the country, expanding protests to meet other political and economic demands.
In One In another key policy change by Abiy, the Prime Minister has said that Ethiopia has its state telecom monopoly and di State Ethiopian Airlines [ETHA.UL] would be open to private investment at home and abroad, both steps would loosen the grip of the state.
Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Letter from Omar Mohammed; Editing by Edmund Blair and Mark Potter