Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office issued a statement on Thursday announcing that over 400 people have been arrested during investigations into ethnic and religious violence that left 78 people dead last week, reported Reuters.
Mass protests were held against Abiy in Addis Ababa and in the Oromia region on October 23 after Jawar Mohammed, a high-profile activist and founder of the Oromia Media Network, accused security forces of planning and plotting an attack against him.
Last week, Jawar Mohammed supporters raged protest against the police’s treatment with the activist after he said police had surrounded his home in Addis Ababa and tried to withdraw his government security detail. A large number of young men from his Oromo ethnic group have turned against Abiy, also an Oromo, saying that he had betrayed them by mistreating Jawar.
Prime Minister Abiy’s spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, described the days of unrest as a “senseless act of violence.” Army troops were deployed to restore order. She said investigations continue and that more arrests are expected in the upcoming days.
At least 700 protesters greeted Prime Minister Abiy with boos on Thursday during a visit to Ambo, a site of earlier violence located 100 km west of the capital Addis Ababa.
When the prime minister entered a meeting with local politicians, some supporters of Jawar Mohammed standing outside the town hall began chanting “Down Abiy” and “We stand with Jawar, Jawar is our hero.”
The prime minister, who was named this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, left the meeting ahead of time and was airlifted out of Ambo in a helicopter amidst tight security.
“We won’t stop the ongoing reforms no matter what. These new challenges indicate how hard and scary the future could be if we don’t stand together,” Abiy said in a statement on Oct. 26.