Lonely Planet Writer

Addis Ababa expansion plans spark protests

A proposed government plan to expand Ethiopia‘s capital Addis Ababa into the surrounding Oromia state region has sparked violent protests.

Students protesting the killing of 8 students at Haramaya University
Students protesting the killing of 8 students at Haramaya University Image by Mahlet, Zone 9 blogger

At least eight students have been killed, and hundreds have been injured in the violent protests that broke out as the government announced its plans to resume expansion, according to Human Rights Watch. Police used live amunition and excessive force to disperse crowds.

The protests were against a proposal known as “the master plan” that would see Addis Ababa push beyond its limits and into the politically autonomous area of Oromia, a region with a history of persecution by the Ethiopian state. The protesters believe that were the master plan to go into effect, it would lead to forced mass evictions of farmers.

The Oromo people of Oromia make up the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, and yet, there have been reports in the past of their systematic marginalisation by the Ethiopian state. According to The Guardian, by March 2014 there were 20,000 ethnic Oromo’s in Ethiopian jails, and during protests in May 2014, nine students were killed. Amnesty International issued a report on Oromo discrimination last year, pointing to the fact that as many 5,000 Oromos were detained and arrested.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Image by OER Africa / CC BY 2.0

The government and ruling elite are from the Tigray region further North of Oromia. The plans for “the master plan” are set to continue, whilst Oromo supporters have taken to Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness of the issue which doesn’t get reported in mainstream Ethiopian media.

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