several arrests before a cultural festival in the Oromia region

According to police, more than five people were arrested in the Oromo zone. These arrests come just before the Oromo Ireecha Cultural Festival.

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Ethiopian authorities say the detainees planned violent action this weekend. Weapons and ammunition were seized during a police operation in Oromia. It is not known if and under what conditions the detainees intended to use it.

At the same time, another operation was uncovered, involving the intelligence services, the federal and Amhara region police, but also the federal army. They would have thwarted an “attempted terrorist attack” according to official Fana TV, which does not say whether the two cases are connected. According to intelligence services, a convoy was captured from Mekelle, the capital of Tigray.

The federal authorities are pointing the finger at the leaders of this northern region which does not hide their opposition to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The political party TPLF is acting according to authorities in consultation with members of the Oromo Liberation Front, who refused to lay down their arms. Goal, according to the official expression: “to disrupt” the Oromo Ireecha festival.

These messages nevertheless take place in a tense context. The Oromo Ireecha Festival traditionally celebrates the end of the rainy season, but for several years it has also been a way of expressing Oromo nationalism. In 2016, the main venue for the celebration, in Bishoftu, not far from Addis Ababa, was the scene of violence. At the time, participants called for the fall of federal power dominated by the Tigrayans, which was achieved with the arrival of Abiy Ahmed in April 2018.

The last two editions were therefore more festive, although they were not entirely without requirements. In Ireecha 2020, the authorities seem to be on guard as several Oromo nationalist leaders like Jawar Mohammed are behind bars.

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