Conflicts in the Somali region of Ethiopia led to the burning of churches, plundering and rape. Police and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stepped in, called the chaos shameful and arrested a former regional president.
Abdi Mohammed Omar, known as Abdi Illey, was shown on television on Monday from his villa in the Ethiopian capital and put under police custody, allegedly on the grounds of human rights.
The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported that the Attorney General said that Abdi Illey was allegedly behind the human rights violations and ethnic and religious clashes in the Somali region, the second largest in Ethiopia.
Abdi Illey, the former president of the Ethiopian Somali region, is a well-known politician who resigned from the government at the beginning of August only after 15 years. He owed much of his authority to the army. His godfather and special adviser was a Somali colonel in national security services.
In the weeks leading up to his resignation, at least 29 people were killed when government buildings were destroyed, companies were looted and churches were burned.
Hyena & # 39; s, lions and tigers
Ethiopian national troops and police were deployed in the state and Abdi Illey was replaced by his former finance minister Ahmed Abdi Mohamed. Ethiopian officials said that a parapoly division in the region, the "Liyu Police," had carried out attacks, including one that had killed 41 people and injured 20 others. They were accused of abuse, torture and rape – and were linked to Abdi Illey.
The events shocked the rest of the East African nation, as the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia explained at the weekend: "What happened in the Somali region can be compared to a scene from a movie or fiction book", he to reporters.
"As such, prisoners were imprisoned in prison cells along with animals such as hyena's, lions and tigers for intimidation purposes, people were raped, looting prevailed and people were killed," continued Abiy. "What happened there was shameful."
An area of interest
The Somali region was one of the first areas that the 42-year-old reformist leader Abiy had visited after becoming prime minister in April.
He had tried to alleviate tensions between the Somali and Oromo communities, and said that bringing peace to the region is one of the "most important and biggest". challenges of his government. The region is also economically important, with four trillion cubic feet of oil and gas reserves, according to government estimates. GCL-Poly Petroleum Investments in China has been developing gas fields there since 2013.
Human Rights Watch
The Africa Division of the research and advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW), which in July had accused Abdi Illey of driving a secret prison, welcomed the arrest. Maria Burnett, associate director of HRW, said: "Hopefully today's arrest of Abdi Illey is a beginning of justice for victims of serious crimes in the Somali region of Ethiopia."
"Other officials who directed and supported abuses, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, must also be held accountable," Burnett said. "The federal authorities must ensure that the prosecutions are transparent, strict and just and that victims and witnesses can witness without fear of reprisals."
jm / bw (AP, Reuters)