Ethiopia has been hit by a wave of protests over land and political rights for more than a year, which monitors say have led to more than 500 deaths. Ethiopia has accused “foreign enemies” of arming, training, and financing groups it blames for a wave of unrest in regions around the capital, Addis Ababa, a day after a six-month state of emergency was imposed. At a news conference on Monday government spokesman Getachew Reda named Eritrea, which has a long-running border dispute with Ethiopia, and Egypt, which is embroiled in a row with Addis Ababa over sharing Nile water, as sources of backing for “armed gangs”. “There are countries which are directly involved in arming, financing and training these elements,” said Reda. Reda said, however, it could be elements who do not have formal government support acting rather than “state actors”.
Egypt last week denied providing any support for Ethiopian protestors. Ethiopia’s government is facing the biggest challenge of its 25 years in power, with anti-government protests spreading, foreign-owned companies targeted, and a harsh security crackdown that has killed hundreds so far while failing to quell the unrest. “The kind of threats we are facing, the kind of attacks that are now targeting civilians, targeting civilian infrastructures, targeting investment cannot be handled through ordinary law enforcement procedures,” Reda said. Protesters from the majority Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups say they are marginalised by the minority Tigrayan-led government, which they accuse of monopolising power and controlling the economy.