By Chase Lacy
Rabat – A grenade was launched today at the rally of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa.
The new reformist leader, who took office in April, had finished a speech to a densely packed crowd of tens of thousands at Meskel Square when an unidentified assailant attempted to hurl a grenade at the stage.
Prime Minister Abiy announced there had been fatalities, however his Chief of Staff, Fitsum Arega, claimed on Twitter that there were no deaths, but 83 were seriously injured. The police said that at least 100 were wounded.
Abiy said after the attack that there are those that seek to undermine the rally, “The people who did this are anti-peace forces. You need to stop doing this. You weren’t successful in the past and you won’t be successful in the future.”
Ethiopia’s new prime minister has vowed to bring reforms to Ethiopia. Among his proposed reforms are more transparency in governance, the release of thousands of prisoners, opening state-owned companies to domestic and foreign investment, and honoring the 2000 peace agreement with Eritrea.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have had a tumultuous relationship for decades. Eritrea fought a long and brutal war for its independence in 1991, and another costly and bloody war with Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000, when the peace agreement was finally signed.
However, Ethiopia until now has refused to implement the agreement until additional rounds of talks were held. Per the agreement, Ethiopia is to cede the border town of Badme to Eritrea, a move fiercely contested by local residents who say they refuse to leave their homes.