January 18, 2019 (Ezega.com) – Protesters in the northeastern region of Ethiopia, Ethiopia, have closed a blockade for the nation's main route to the sea, which began on Sunday. The demonstrators were demonstrating against the growing ethnic conflict, organizers and police said on Tuesday.
The protesters started a five-day block on the main highway of the country to neighboring Djibouti on Sunday according to Mahi Bule, a member of the organizing committee.
Ethiopia has experienced a motivated ethnic conflict since last year, which led to the death and the transfer of over 3 million people.
Critics argue that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took over in April last year, has adopted political reforms that have resurrected the inactive ethnic tensions in the second most populous country on the continent.
Abiy's aggressive reforms were greeted with praise, but experts warn that shaking the entire government risks exacerbating long-standing rivalries between disparate groups.
The 42-year-old premier signed a peace deal with the perennial enemy of Ethiopia, Eritrea, has released political prisoners, opened the state-controlled economy and made significant changes in the country's security agencies .
But these sudden changes in a country where political dissent was the norm inspires people and different ethnic factions to the jockey for influence and power.
Particularly worrisome is the speed with which these reforms occur, that the critics are equivalent to a revolution of some kind.
The highway was blocked after a series of deadly clashes between Issa Somalis and the Afars ethnic group, which are minority groups in the area, which broke out sometime last year. According to the locals, the lives were lost during the clashes while the government neglects what afflicts the region.
According to the Afar elders, the attacks were intended to separate the areas occupied by Issas from the area. According to a rebel Afar group, the attacks were supported by Somali ethnic Somalis and Djibouti.
People were demonstrating against violence and the government directive that ordered local militias to leave the disputed areas and be replaced by federal troops.
The local militia has offered to protect civilians. "We will protest until the government changes its decision," Bule said.
Federal police spokesman Jeylan Abdi told reporters that the blockade ended after long discussions between the region's leadership and local elders.
Djibouti is responsible for 95% of all incoming trade for the country, which has a population of 105 million and is an economic giant in Africa.
Solomon O. for Ezega News