Ethiopia failed coup: Fifth death, national mourning, mastermind killed
(africanews)—Attorney General of Ethiopia’s Amhara region has succumbed to injuries sustained after an attack that led to the death of the region’s president over the weekend.
Migbara Kebede becomes the fifth casualty of the coup attempt in Bahir Dar, the regional capital. The BBC also reports that the mastermind of the attack, Asaminew Tsige, had been shot dead by police, on Monday.
The death of Ambachew Mekonnen and Ezez Wasie – the regional president and his advisor respectively was confirmed by the government on Sunday.
Over in the capital Addis Ababa, Army Chief Seare Mekonnen and another retired officer (Maj. Gen. Gezai Abera) who were reportedly working to thwart the overthrow of the Amhara regional government were shot and killed by the army chief’s bodyguard.
Day of national mourning
Flags are flying at half mast across the country in honour of the officers who were lost in the events of Saturday.
Reports indicate that state broadcasters are running condolence messages whiles religious leaders have continued to urge for calm.
“A national committee has been formed to organize military honours for General Seare Mekonnen and retired Major General Gezai Abera. The committee will update and provide information as needed,” Abiy’s office said.
It also said the Amhara region will deal with funeral preparations for the deceased officials.
Regional and global reactions
The United Nations has called for restraint even though the African Union, AU, based in Addis Ababa; has yet to issue a statement on the developments.
Regional neighbours have, however, reacted amongst others, Eritrea and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. Turkey and Qatar on Monday issued strongly worded condemnations.
Qatar condemned the criminal assassination of the Chief of Staff of Ethiopia and the failed coup attempt in Amhara region. The Foreign Ministry said that Qatar affirms its support for the government & people of Ethiopia, expressing its full confidence in the current government. pic.twitter.com/onk31KoFfI
— Qatar News Agency (@QNAEnglish) June 24, 2019
Eritrea and Somalia reacted via tweets with the former sending condolences whiles the latter added a condemnation of the action and solidarity with the people of Ethiopia.
“The Government of Eritrea has conveyed its message of condolence to the Government & people of Ethiopia on the killing, in a failed coup attempt, of the President Amhara Regional Government, his advisor, Chief of Staff of Ethiopia’s National Defense Forces and Maj. Gen.(Rt) Gezai,” the message from Asmara read.
Internet remains blocked
Internet rights group, NetBlocks, reported that service had been cut ostensibly in connection with the incidents in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa.
Authorities have usually cut off the internet several times in the past for security reasons. The most recent eight-day cut was because of an annual national examination. The government and telecom provider never confirmed if that was the real reason.
Residents in Amhara’s capital Bahir Dar said late on Saturday there was gunfire in some neighborhoods and some roads had been closed off.
Early on Sunday, Brigadier General Tefera Mamo, the head of special forces in Amhara, told state television that “most of the people who attempted the coup have been arrested, although there are a few still at large.”
The BBC reporter says as at Monday morning people in the capital Addis Ababa were going about their normal routine.
Update: Internet access in #Ethiopia has been cut for over 24 hours following the coup attempt in #Amhara state; real-time network data show 99% of country currently offline; objective of blackout remains unclear ⬇️https://t.co/v2ex69GzNd pic.twitter.com/wqfWhkLwMb
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) June 23, 2019
Asaminew Tsige: Mastermind of the putsch
The Prime Minister’s office in its statement named one Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige as the mastermind of the alleged coup and deadly attacks.
“It is to be recalled that Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige was given amnesty and released from imprisonment last year,” the statement of June 23 read in part.
The shooting occurred when federal officials were meeting the state president – an ally of Abiy – to discuss how to rein in the open recruitment of ethnic militias by Asaminew, one Addis-based official told Reuters.
A week earlier, Asaminew had openly advised the Amhara people, one of Ethiopia’s larger ethnic groups, to arm themselves, in a video spread on Facebook and seen by a Reuters reporter.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government faces growing pressure from regional strongmen, including in Amhara, a flashpoint in growing ethnic violence in Ethiopia.
He has a background in the Ethiopian Airforce. In 2009, he was among several dozen military officials arrested allegedly for plotting a coup and takeover of the country, then led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Asaminew Tsige was sentenced to life in prison.
— Zecharias Zelalem (@ZekuZelalem) June 23, 2019
“This coup attempt will be a warning to him, he’s going to have to focus much more on domestic politics. This will divert his attention from all the reforms he’s been trying to achieve.” Dr Alex Vines discussing the failed coup attempt in Amhara State, #Ethiopia via @AJEnglish pic.twitter.com/WwKvTL5N92
— Chatham House Africa (@AfricaProg) June 24, 2019