Ethiopia 'coup ringleader killed'

Ethiopia 'coup ringleader killed'
Source: BBC
Date: 25-06-2019 Time: 01:06:41:am
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The renegade general was released from prison last year

The suspected ringleader of Saturday's failed coup attempt in Ethiopia's Amhara region has been shot dead, police say.

Brig-Gen Asaminew Tsige was killed as he attempted to escape from his hideout in Amhara's capital, police added.

Ethiopia's army chief Gen Seare Mekonnen was killed while trying to foil the coup, the government said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged Ethiopians to unite against "evil" forces set on dividing the country.

Flags are flying at half-mast after the government declared a day of mourning to mark the deaths of loyalists.

Gen Seare and Amhara governor Ambachew Mekonnen, who was also killed on Saturday, were seen as close allies of the prime minister.

A heavy contingent of pro-government forces has been deployed in Amhara's capital, Bahir Dar, and the federal capital, Addis Ababa.

The internet has been shut across the country, days after services resumed following an unexplained blackout of more than a week.


The US state department has warned its staff in Addis Ababa to stay inside.

Ethnic violence has hit Amhara and other parts of Ethiopia in recent years.

Since his election last year, Mr Abiy has transformed Ethiopia.

He has moved to end political repression by releasing political prisoners, removing bans on opposition political parties, overseeing the prosecution of officials accused of human rights abuses and has also restored diplomatic relations with Ethiopia's long-time enemy, Eritrea.

But his reforms has taken on powerful interest groups in the military and the ruling coalition.

Mr Abiy survived a grenade attack at a rally a year ago on Sunday, which killed two people and left more than 100 injured.

Africa's oldest independent country, Ethiopia is also the continent's second most populous after Nigeria, with 102.5 million inhabitants from more than 80 different ethnic groups.

A transfer hub for long-haul air travel, it has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, but a vast number of young Ethiopians are without work.

Who was the alleged ringleader?

Media captionPM's spokeswoman gives details of army chief's assassination

Brig-Gen Asaminew was Amhara's regional security chief and was said to have a significant following among young people.

He was among a group of high-ranking military officers released from prison early last year when the government moved to free political detainees in response to public pressure.

The general had been in custody for nine years for allegedly plotting a coup.

Why is he seen as the ringleader?

Brig-Gen Asaminew came from the Amhara ethnic group, the second largest in the country.

He had a reputation of being a hardline ethnic nationalist who wanted greater autonomy for the Amhara people.

His alleged bid for power in the region, therefore, did not come as a complete surprise.

Brig-Gen Asaminew openly advised the Amhara people this month to arm themselves, in a video spread via social media.

He was also known to have had a bad relationship with the Tigray regional government, which said that Gen Seare and another general, Gezae Abera, had been killed because they came from the minority Tigray ethnic group.

What do we know about the attacks?

Gen Seare was killed on Saturday evening by his bodyguard, the prime minister's press office said.

The bodyguard killed himself immediately afterwards, police said on Monday, contrary to earlier reports that he had been arrested.

Gen Gezai was also killed at Gen Seare's residence, the prime minister's press office said.

Gen Seare Mekonnen (TV screen grab)

Image caption: Gen Seare Mekonnen's death was confirmed by TV channels

The government said it had reason to think the attack was linked to the assassination of the governor of Amhara, Mr Ambachew, a few hours earlier in Bahir Dar.

Mr Ambachew was killed at a meeting in his office along with his senior adviser, Ezez Wasie.

The region's attorney general was wounded in the attack and has since died state media reports.

The funerals of some of the officials are due to take place on Tuesday.

Lake Ayalew has now been appointed as the region's acting governor.

Many of those involved in the coup attempt are under arrest and operations are in progress to detain others, the PM's press office said.

"The coup attempt in Amhara regional state is against the constitution and is intended to scupper the hard-won peace of the region," it added.

"This illegal attempt should be condemned by all Ethiopians and the federal government has full capacity to overpower this armed group."


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