Ethiopian govt caves to oromo protests, halts controversial Addis Ababa expansion plan

Protestors in Minnesota, USA, May 2014  marching in solidarity with the Oromo people in Ethiopia. Photo Credit Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri

Protestors in Minnesota, USA, May 2014 marching in solidarity with the Oromo people in Ethiopia. Photo Credit Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri

After weeks of massive protests by Oromo people in Ethiopia, the government and the ruling party in Oromia region, The Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) have announced intentions to reconsider the highly contentious Addis Ababa Master Plan to expand the city boundaries to the region.

The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in the horn of Africa nation have been protesting the government proposed measure claiming if implemented it would displace hundreds of area residents and rights groups say about 140 people have died in the demonstrations.

Government spokesman Getachew Reda told reporters Wednesday they have decided to shelve the hotly contested master plan and that the government intends to prosecute protestors.

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According to sources, since the protests began last November, thousands of protestors have been locked up by the Ethiopian security forces and rights groups are exerting pressure on Western donor community to take action against the Addis Ababa government.

Daniel Bekele, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division was quoted as saying donor nations have moral obligation to press Ethiopia on human rights given the huge amounts funds the country receives every year.

The Ethiopian government is renown for its hardline stance against dissent and the United States has called on the Ethiopian authorities “to permit peaceful protest and commit to a constructive dialogue to address legitimate grievances.”

Oromo protests have garnered support worldwide with people marching in cities overseas in solidarity with the protestors. the government first floated the infamous master plan in 2014.