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  • Nigusu Tilahun, Press Secretary at the office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister addresses a news conference on the attempted coup in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2019.

    Nigusu Tilahun, Press Secretary at the office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister addresses a news conference on the attempted coup in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 June 2019
Opinion

The government accused General Asamnew Tsige of masterminding gun attacks that killed the national army’s chief of staff and Amhara’s state president.

The man accused of trying to seize control of Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region was shot dead Monday, a senior government official said, and a number of other plotters have been arrested.

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The government accused General Asamnew Tsige of masterminding gun attacks Saturday night that killed five people including the national army’s chief of staff and Amhara’s state president.

Asamnew was shot Monday near Amhara’s capital Bahir Dar, the prime minister’s press secretary, Negussu Tilahun, told Reuters. He declined to give any other details.

The reasons behind the attempted coup in the state remain unclear, although it may have been a reaction from Asamnew to a plan by state officials to rein him in after they were alarmed by reports of his ethnic rhetoric and recruitment of militias.

Saturday’s violence unfolded in two separate attacks. Army chief of staff Seare Mekonnen and a retired general were shot by Seare’s bodyguard at his residence in the national capital Addis Ababa.

Amhara state president Ambachew Mekonnen and an adviser were killed in the region’s main city, Bahir Dar. Amhara’s attorney general was also shot, and died of his wounds Monday, state media reported.

Access to the internet appeared to be blocked across Ethiopia, users reported. 

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has pushed through sweeping changes since coming to power in April last year, making peace with Eritrea, reining in the security services, releasing political prisoners and lifting bans on some outlawed separatist groups.

The reforms in Africa’s second-most populous country have won him widespread international praise.

But the premier’s shake-up of the military and intelligence services has earned him powerful enemies at home, while his government is struggling to contain powerful figures in Ethiopia’s myriad ethnic groups fighting the federal government and each other for greater influence and resources.

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