Ethiopia Blames 'Foreign Enemies' for Stoking Unrest

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – 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.

Ethiopia Blames 'Foreign Enemies' for Stoking Unrest

Government spokesman Getachew Reda told a news conference on Monday that 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 marginalized by the minority Tigrayan-led government, which they accuse of monopolizing power and controlling the economy.

"The internet in Ethiopia has been blocked for at least the past week and the few people on the ground that we spoke to said the state of emergency is nothing more than to suppress the protests," Al Jazeera's Fahmida Miller reported from Mombasa, in neighboring Kenya.

"[They] are concerned by the possibly heavy hand security forces will use."

"We know for a fact that the terrorist group OLF has been receiving all kinds of support from Egypt," said Reda. "Its leaders used to be in Asmara [Eritrea] - now they are in Cairo."

He said "elements in the Egyptian political establishment" were fomenting rebellion, and seeking to promote "historical rights" over access to the River Nile.

On Sunday, Ethiopia declared a state of emergency following months of violent anti-government protests, especially in the restive Oromia region.

"A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country," Ethiopain Prime Minister Hailemarmiam Desalegn said on state television.

Local media said emergency law, declared for the first time in 25 years, would last for six months.

Protests reignited last week in the Oromia region - the main focus of a recent wave of demonstrations - after dozens of people were killed in a stampede on October 2. The deadly crush was sparked by police firing tear gas and warning shots at a huge crowd of protesters attending a religious festival.

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