Popular Ethiopian singer, Hachalu Hundessa shot dead

Ruben Fields
July 2, 2020

The singer and media owner were more critical of the prime minister in recent months; some Oromo activists have accused Ethiopia's 41-year-old prime minister of repression.

"The security forces have taken eight Kalashnikovs, five pistols and nine radio transmitters from Jawar Mohammed's vehicle", he said of the arrest.

The number does not include any deaths in the capital Addis Ababa, where one policeman has been killed and an unspecified number of people were killed in three blasts on Tuesday.

Gunshots could be heard in many neighbourhoods, and gangs armed with machetes and sticks roamed the streets.

"The assassination of an important Oromo musician, subsequent protests which have in places involved property destruction and security forces using lethal force, and the arrest of Oromo leaders, creates a unsafe situation and is another blow to Ethiopia's troubled transition", said William Davison, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Abiy, Haacaaluu and Jawar are all Oromo.

He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes. "Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace".

During an interview last year with the Ethiopian Observer, Hundeessaa revealed that he previously spent five years in prison for taking part in protests.

What happened in the protests?

In the eastern town of Chiro, two people were shot dead during protests, a medic at the local hospital told the BBC.

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The demonstrators tore down the statue of Ras Makonnen, the father of Emperor Haile Selassie, who ruled the region in the 19th century.

Jawar, whose Oromo Media Network could pose a significant challenge to Abiy's party in next year's elections, was arrested on Tuesday, together with Oromo opposition leader Bekele Gerba, in connection with an argument over the burial of Hachalu's body.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, promised an investigation and asked the public to remain calm, in a message posted on Twitter.

Why have Oromos been protesting?

The Oromo is the biggest ethnic group in terms of population in Ethiopia.

The motive for his killing is not yet clear, although he previously played a prominent role in the 2018 protests that led to a change in government.

"It is also the ethnic group "credited with leading Ethiopia through a transition from the previous regime to the current leadership under Abiy Ahmed, who himself is from the Oromo ethnic group", Wanjohi explained".

He has brought in a series of reforms, which have transformed what was considered a very oppressive state.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 primarily for making peace with long-time foe Eritrea, but his efforts in transforming Ethiopia were also recognised.

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