ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian authorities said on Friday they had arrested two suspects over the killing of a popular political singer, whose death last week sparked protests in which 166 people were killed.
The shooting of Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, a musician widely revered among his Oromo ethnic group, ignited protests in Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromiya region. Prime Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described his killing as “an evil act”.
In a televised statement, Attorney General Adanech Abebe said that the shooter was acting on the orders of an anti-government group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF-Shene).
The two men who were arrested included the suspected shooter and an accomplice. A third suspect was still at large, Adenech said.
“We have arrested those who killed him, and those who collaborated in the killing,” Adanech said in the statement. “We will continue to ensure the rule of law.”
The suspects have not yet been charged.
Haacaaluu sang in Oromo, the language of Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group. His killing tapped into grievances fuelled by decades of government repression and what the Oromo describe as their long exclusion from political power.
Abiy, himself an Oromo, came to power in 2018 as the first modern Ethiopian leader from that ethnic group, after months of violent demonstrations led to his predecessor’s resignation.
The unrest last week was the deadliest since Abiy took office. The prime minister has initiated a broad package of political and economic reforms in what has long been one of the most tightly controlled countries in Africa, and won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for making peace with neighbouring Eritrea.
But the increased freedoms under his leadership have also been accompanied by a rise in ethnic violence, and some Oromo figures say he has not done enough to address their longstanding grievances.
(Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Peter Graff)