Ethiopia's stunning reforms now challenged by deadly unrest

Ethiopia's stunning political reforms are now threatened by long-standing ethnic tensions that have roared back to life since a young prime minister took power just five months ago and promised greater freedoms.

While exiled groups once banned as terror organizations are welcomed home to join political dialogue, deadly violence erupts on the fringes of celebrations. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered peacefully in Addis Ababa's Meskel Square to cheer one group's return. Two days later, police fired tear gas there to disperse people protesting killings blamed by some on youth from the same ethnicity.

Suddenly, the government of 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appears to be reaching for security tactics whose unpopularity helped to bring down the previous government, while some Ethiopians who cheered Abiy's reforms now accuse him of being soft on the unrest that poses his biggest challenge so far.

The internet winked off this week across the capital, a once-common act to control dissenting voices. The National Security Council has vowed "all necessary measures" against those spreading anarchy, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported. Some have even called for the return of the state of emergency that Abiy lifted in one of his first acts in office.

The prime minister himself, who shocked the country with a dizzying series of reforms that included freeing imprisoned opposition figures and vowing free and fair elections in 2020, has made warning sounds against the unrest.

"There's nothing more shameful than a group of people committing these types of crimes against their fellow citizens," Abiy said Tuesday while visiting a camp for those displaced by the latest violence. Read more...

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