29 people injured in explosion at pro-Abiy rally in Ethiopia

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Map of Ethiopia.
REUTERS FILE PHOTO

29 people were injured in an explosion at a rally held in support of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Ambo town in Ethiopia’s Oromia region on Sunday.

The Prime Minister was not present at the rally, which was convened by local officials.

Arasa Merdasa, the top police official in the region, said that six people were arrested in connection with the incident.

“The bomb attack on a rally for Dr. Abiy has injured 29 people, of whom 28 have been treated and sent home,” Merdasa said.

Merdasa added that the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the breakaway armed wing of the opposition Oromo Liberation Front, was suspected to be behind the incident.

The group has also been accused of being behind the killing of a high-ranking security official in the town of Burayu, still in Oromia, on Friday.

Ethiopia is set to hold parliamentary elections in August in what is seen as a voter test of Ahmed’s administration. This latest incident raises doubts over whether the elections will be conducted peacefully and credibly.

Ethiopia has experienced substantial political reforms since Prime Minister Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2019, came into office in 2018.

Despite the reforms, Ethiopia has also experienced bouts of ethnic unrest with the government foiling an attempted coup in June last year.

Ahmed, who promised a free and fair vote, is banking on winning the elections to secure a strong mandate to push on with his reforms. The official campaign period for the elections is due to start in May.

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