Ethiopia Crisis: Internet Shut Down; Omar Arrested

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Following the crisis that broke out in eastern Ethiopia’s Somali region, authorities have cut off Internet access according to some local residents on Wednesday.

The residents, one speaking from Oromia region and the other from the city of Harar, said the connection had been down for three days.

Ethiopian government spokesman Ahmed Shide did not immediately respond to a phone call and a text message seeking comment on the shutdown, which was reported on Tuesday by digital rights group Access Now.

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The crisis broke out on Saturday in Jigjiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region, with mobs looting properties owned by ethnic minorities. Security officials shot four people dead, a witness told Reuters.

The unrest, according to the government was been stoked by regional officials.

The residents in Oromia and Harar said they were concerned the crisis could spread from the Somali region into other parts of eastern Ethiopia, in part because tit-for-tat ethnic reprisals were one facet of the unrest that roiled the country for three years until the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in February.

But since replacing Desalegn in April, Abiy Ahmed has turned politics and the economy on its head in the country of 100 million people but continuing ethnic violence poses a challenge to his reforms. Reuters

Meanwhile, the former president of Ethiopia’s Somali regional state, Mahamoud Omar, a.k.a. Abdi Illey, is being held under federal custody barely twenty-four hours after he resigned his post.

“Officials from Ethiopia’s Somali region told the Ethiopian Somali region media that Abdi Mahmud Omar who resigned 6 August as a governor, was arrested by Ethiopia’s federal military,” the state-run ESTV website reported.

“Officials from the Somali region in Ethiopia have confirmed to us reports of the arrest of Abdi Mahmud Omar,” the report added.

Privately-owned Addis Standard added that the former leader and top military officials had been rounded up by federal forces deployed on Monday on request of the Somali regional authorities. They are due in the capital Addis Ababa. Africanews

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