Youths enraged by the killing of a popular protest singer, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, took to the streets in the state capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday, burning tyres and chanting slogans.
Addis Ababa City Police Commissioner Getu Argaw said late on Monday that Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, an Oromo musician known for his protest songs, had been shot dead at around 9:30 in the evening.
“Some suspects had been detained,” he said, without giving further details.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in a tweet expressed his condolences, promised an investigation and asked the public to remain calm.
Haacaaluu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests which propelled Abiy, who is also Oromo, into office in 2018.
Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of the multi-ethnic ruling coalition dominated by ethnic Tigray leaders.
Political and economic freedom
His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedom in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states, and he won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.
However, the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups.
Reports say Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.
Prime Minister Abiy’s Pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.
“They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again!!…You can kill us, all of us; you can never ever stop us!! NEVER!!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.
Meanwhile, elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to Covid-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.