Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil
July 02/2020 – In a joint statement issued by the Federal Attorney General’s office and The Federal Police Commission which was aired on state TV last night, Deputy Commissioner of the Federal Police Commission Zelalem Mengiste accused Jawar Mohammed and the people detained with him of attempting to repeat the June 22/2019 multiple assassinations.
Referring to the confrontation on Tuesday involving Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba and 33 others who are now in police custody, the Deputy Commissioner said that the issue was not about “taking [Haacaaluu Hundeessaa’s body] or not, but conducting a planned attempt to repeat the assassinations of June 22 on senior government officials at Oromia Cultural Center.”
On Tuesday evening, speaking via State TV, Federal Police Commission Commissioner Endeshaw Tasew has announced the arrest of 35 individuals, including Jawar and Bekele Gerba of the opposition OFC, and said they were arrested after the killing of one member of Oromia region special force during a confrontation that ensued at Oromo Cultural Center near Meskel Square in Addis Abeba. Commissioner Endeshaw said that a confrontation happened between government security forces and “a group led by Jawar Mohammed” over the burial place of the late artist Haacaaluu leading to the killing of one member of Oromia special force. He accused Jawar’s private security detail of killing the police.
In his address last night, Deputy Commissioner Zelalem strengthened the Commissioner’s statement and said “it was a coordinated act with a budget and a plan of its own to start and end the act in Addis Abeba.” He also accused Jawar’s security detail of “breaching” into the Oromo Cultural Center fully armed while knowing that “officials from Oromia region were holding a meeting inside.” ‘”It was a move to repeat the June 22 incident,” he said.
According to him, one member of Oromia special force was killed during this confrontation, in which “government forces showed maximum restraint, helping to de-escalate the tension which would have ended in the death of several government officials.” He added that the “investigation shows that this was a planned attempt aimed at beginning and ending in Addis Abeba; a conspiracy to create a bloodbath.” He also said that their investigations show that using media, there were plans which were “being coordinated through media to dismantle Menelik II statue in Addis Abeba and hold the burial of artist Haacaaluu in its place.” He said the use of media for this purpose was being investigated by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority which has started taking its own measures.
Referring to the eight Kalashnikov rifles, five pistols and nine communication radios which were confiscated from Jawar’s private security, the Deputy Commissioner said it was not known “how they were armed.”
Furthermore, the Deputy Commissioner said that the scope of the investigations will also look into the “disturbances in October 2019 in which 97 people were killed.” By that he was referring to the protests which erupted in several cities and towns across Oromia regional state and in various spots in Addis Abeba and its environs on October 23/2019 after Jawar Mohammed posted information in his Facebook page that his security detail were told “to pack their stuff and leave the compound quietly without alerting me.”
The government announced at that time that 67 people were killedduring the three days violence.
In addition to that the Deputy Commissioner said police investigations will also look into Eskinder Nega, who he accused of “financing and organizing” various groups of youth to commit acts of violence in the city. He vowed that “negotiations” are no longer to be pursued from now on, as will “mediation.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to state that we will make sure the rule of law reigns and justice and peace for our people will be ensured in a short period of time.”
In a related development, the police have brought Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba to the Federal First Instance Court, Arada Branch today, where federal judges have granted additional days for the police to remand both, according to a report on state affiliated FBC.
Three other people, two men and one woman, who are suspected of having a direct involvement in the killing of artist Haacaaluu were also brought to the same court. The court has granted the police 14 days to remand & investigate the three suspects.
It is to be recalled that on Tuesday June 30, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed linked the three major incidents that happened in the last three consecutive June in 2018, 2019 and 2020 with incidents that have threatened to derail his party’s reform agenda. AS