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Ethiopia: Oromia region observes shutdown called by opposition

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s Oromia region has been hit by a five-day shutdown called by the main opposition group – the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

The OFC says it has planned the protest to run from today (August 23) till Sunday August 27. The party said the call had been heeded with businesses and transportation service muted in most parts of the region.

Local media reports that the purpose of the strike is to remember protesters who were killed during the anti-government protests last year. It is also aimed at demanding the release of political prisoners arrested during the deadly protests.

The spreading protests led to the imposition of a state of emergency in October 2016. The six-month directive was earlier this month lifted by the parliament. It lasted a total of 10-months due to a four-month renewal in April this year.

The Oromia region is experiencing its second such protest this year. The first was in July when a tax hike by the government was resisted by a similar shutdown.

The OFC’s leader, Merera Gudina, is currently in detention awaiting trial on charges of terrorism. Thousands were detained during the protests that also hit the Amhara region. The government has since reported mass releases and says others have been processed for court.

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