Shocked Ethiopians are struggling to come to terms...
ADDIS ABABA Shocked Ethiopians are struggling to come to terms with the bloodiest civil unrest in a decade in sub-Saharan Africa's second-most populous country.
While government and opposition groups angrily swap blame for looting and rioting in which 41 people were killed, Addis Ababa residents wonder whether more turbulence lies ahead following last Wednesday's bloodshed in the capital. "April 18 will be remembered as Bloody Wednesday in Ethiopia," wrote the Capital business newspaper.
Police cradling automatic rifles on Tuesday guarded the gates of Addis Ababa University, the flashpoint of the disturbances, as shopkeepers repaired battered premises and government departments replaced shattered windows. Critics of the government are appalled at the determination with which police put down unrest that followed a peaceful protest by students demanding academic freedom.
"Police action against the students was the most serious mistake that later turned a peaceful protest into an angry backlash," wrote columnist "Yosef B" in the private Fortune newspaper.
The unrest was fuelled by factors including an economic malaise that gives youth little hope of jobs, resentment at the government's handling of its stormy relationship with neighbouring Eritrea and its insistence on ruling through an ethnically based federal system. Reuters.