December 10, 2015 — 8:10 AM GMT
Government says four students died, 20 police officers injured
Oromo students demonstrating over development plan for capital
High-school and university students from across Ethiopia’s most-populous region are protesting to demand the government shelve a master plan for the city, said Bekele Nega, general secretary of the Oromo Federalist Congress.
“The protest is not as usual, they are not backing away,” he said by phone from Addis Ababa. “They are not willing to stop until the demands are met.” Authorities gave a lower number of fatalities.
Ethiopia, which the International Monetary Fund forecasts will have sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economy this year, is seeing tensions between its plans for rapid development and its constitution, which enshrines the right to ethnic self-administration. Oromo critics say the integration of the capital with surrounding towns amounts to annexation of the ethnic group’s territory as farmers will be evicted and the language and culture lost.
Integrated development will benefit Oromo residents of peripheral towns and there will be no changes to administrative boundaries, said Getachew Reda, Ethiopia’s communications minister.
Four students died and 20 police officers were injured when protesters became violent, including an attempt to take control of a police station in Toke Kutaye in West Shewa zone, Getachew said by phone from Gambella town on Wednesday.
“We know the protests are based on false claims by some political elements, but whatever the source of protest they should be done in a peaceful manner,” he said. “Generally security forces have been exercising significant restraint, but there were areas where they have been overwhelmed.”
A student reported to have died at Haramaya University by falling from a window when police raided dormitories is recovering, Alemshet Teshoma, a university spokesman, said by phone from East Hararghe zone.