News Analysis: Amhara region blames section of ‘Fano’ for ruling party official’s killing as PM Abiy warns of meddling by external forces

On Monday to Tuesday night, the taskforce also announced that it has captured large amounts of weapons “buried in the a forest” in North Wello zone of the Amhara region

Addis Abeba – The Amhara regional state government has accused the informal ‘Fano’ armed group commonly known as ‘Misrak Amhara Fano’ for the killing of Girma Yeshitila, head of the Amhara Prosperity Party and member of the party’s executive committee, who was shot dead on 27 April.

Despite attempts by the national army to peacefully resolve differences, a group led by the ‘Misrak Amhara Fano’ killed “our leadership and is still terrorizing the people” the Amhara regional state government this morning in a statement released through its communication bureau.

The regional state also accused the group of working to “incite discord between the defense forces and the people by disseminating false information that blackmails the army,” and admitted that there has been armed confrontation between the group and members of the national defense forces. The government would “continue in its law enforcement operations” in the region, the statement said, and called on individuals in the armed groups to surrender and return to their normal lives.

“Brutal killings have been perpetrated on senior government officials by groups organized covertly aiming to make the region leader-less even though the government chooses to give peaceful dialogue a priority when it is capable of enforcing the law,” the statement reads.

On Monday, speaking at the inauguration ceremony of Halala Kela Resort, which was built as part of his ‘Dine for Ethiopia’ initiative, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed weighed in on the killing of Girma, whom he once again blamed on those who couldn’t tolerate different ideas.

In the same speech, he accused unnamed external forces that he said have been “interfering in Ethiopia’s internal affairs” whenever there is any insecurity issue in the country, and warned that they should “refrain from their deeds.” 

“On this occasion, I would like to warn these forces, especially non-Ethiopian forces, to not meddle in our internal affairs; they cannot benefit by trying to create division among our people every time there is a sign of [instability]. I warn that they should to leave our affairs to ourselves and focus on many things they need to do but have not done for themselves in their own land,” he said.

The “wealthy and young people” who have been residing abroad or at home and participating in this action should also restrain themselves from such illegal actions,he said, and added that “it is impossible either to live comfortably or come to power through killing people”.

In a statement he released shortly after the news of the killing of the Amhara Prosperity Party head, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the perpetrators were those who espoused “ultimate extremism” to try to persuade everyone who disagrees with them “with a gun” and have committed this “shameful and horrible act.”

The remarks by PM and and the statement from the Amhara region government came days after the Ethiopian Joint Security and Intelligence Task Force announced on 28 April that it has started “taking decisive measures” against “extremist forces” that it accused of “trying to take control of regional state power by destroying the constitutional order in the Amhara regional state”.

As a sequel to the announcement the taskforce said on Sunday, 30 April, that it had arrested 47 suspects who were “organized covertly and have allegedly committed terrorism offenses.” Among the detainees who are now accused of terrorism related offenses include journalists who were detained over the past few weeks. The taskforce claimed some of the detainees were “apprehended with several individual and group weapons, bombs and incendiary explosives as well as satellite communication devices and laptops” containing various information, the taskforce said in a statement.

“The suspects, making the killing of senior Amhara region leaders their target, were organized and coordinated in the country and abroad to overthrow the federal government by violently attacking the constitutional system and controlling the governmental structure of the region” the statement added.

Furthermore, the taskforce listed names of 11 individuals, including opposition politician Lidetu Ayalew and a group media personalities from the Youtube based Ethio-360 media, based in the US, as accomplices of the plot. The government is seeking cooperation from the Interpol and is working with governments of foreign countries where the individuals are based, to have them extradited, the statement said.

On Monday to Tuesday night, the taskforce also announced that it has captured large amounts of weapons “buried in the a forest” in North Wello zone of the Amhara region that it claimed was being used by “extremist terrorist groups” bent on “destroying the constitutional order of the country by force and to achieve evil political interests.”AS

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