Ethiopia PM picks Adem Mohammed as new army chief

In this image made from video, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announces a failed coup as he addresses the public on television, Sunday, June 23, 2019. The failed coup in the Amhara region was led by a high-ranking military official and others within the country’s military, the prime minister told the state broadcaster. (ETV via AP)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has appointed the country’s spy chief as the the new army chief of staff.

In this image made from video, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announces a failed coup as he addresses the public on television, Sunday, June 23, 2019. The failed coup in the Amhara region was led by a high-ranking military official and others within the country’s military, the prime minister told the state broadcaster. (ETV via AP)

The premier made the announcement late Friday that Gen. Adem Mohammed would take up the post replacing Seare Mekonnen who was killed last Saturday.

In the new appointments, Lieutenant General Mola Hailemariam was named chief of ground forces while Demelash Gebremichael becomes the new director of national intelligence and security service.

Following the Saturday attacks, there has been high security in the capital and the Amhara region amid a wave of arrests. The internet was shut down and only partially reopened on Friday.

A total of 255 people have been detained both in the Amhara region and Addis Ababa following the attempted coup, said the prime minister’s spokeswoman on Friday.

“The Brigadier General who orchestrated the attack, Asamnew Tsige, was killed while he was trying to flee,” press secretary Billene Seyoum said, adding the attacks were designed to gain a shortcut to power. “They were focused on undermining the reforms of the current administration,” she said.

Since the assassinations, Ethiopian security forces have arrested several members and leaders of the National Amhara Movement, a party official told The Associated Press.

“This is unacceptable and against democratic principles. This has to stop,” said Melkamu Shumye, a party leader.

Government officials are describing last week’s killings as the works of a rogue security official and his associates. Some Ethiopians worry that the subsequent mass arrests indicate that the incident is being used by the government to silence dissent, mainly in the Amhara region.