Oromo festival in Ethiopia hopes for ethnic reconciliation



published on
30.09.2018 at 22.14 hours
by
AFP

Tens of thousands of Ethiopians gathered in a happy mood for the annual festival of the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in the country, a year after the event turned into a protest against the government.

The religious festival Irreecha, which took place in Bishoftu, 50 kilometers southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, celebrates the end of the rainy season.

Reconciliation was the theme of this year's event, which took place two weeks after clashes between groups of the Oromo, who inhabited the country around the capital, and residents of other ethnic minorities.

The violence continued to kill dozens of people in the capital and the Burayu suburb.

Endrias Wegede, a thirty-something member of the ethnic Gamo ("Lion") people, said that he visited the festival for the first time, at the invitation of the elders and politicians of Oromo to promote reconciliation

"The kindness and cooperation of the Oromo people helped to avoid even more of a bloodbath in Burayu, while our community elders also protected the lives and property of Oromo in our region," said Wegede.

Many of the victims of the recent violence were ethnic Gamos, who live side by side with the larger Oromo community.

The festivities on Sunday passed peacefully.

During Irreecha 2016, at least 55 people were killed after falling into deep rushes in deep ruts as they ran to prevent tear gas fire from security forces.

Last year the event changed into a protest against the government.

But since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April, as the first Oromo head of government, there have been a number of gestures and reforms.

However, intermunicipal conflicts, often territorial, have continued and one million people have been expelled by violence.


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