- Title: Ethiopian opposition calls for inquiry into stampede deaths
- Date: 4th October 2016
- Summary: FRONT PAGE PHOTO OF LIT CANDLES FOR THOSE KILLED IN STAMPEDE
- Embargoed: 19th October 2016 15:10
- Keywords: Merara Gudina Ethiopia opposition stampede
- Location: ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
- City: ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
- Country: Ethiopia
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents
- Reuters ID: LVA00252LC0UF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Ethiopia's opposition party leader called on the government on Tuesday (October 4) to allow an independent inquiry into the deaths of scores of people at a religious festival on Sunday.
More than 50 people were killed in a stampede in Ethiopia's Oromiya region that was triggered when police used teargas and shot in the air to disperse anti-government protesters at the annual Irreecha festival.
Merera Gudina, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said the government needed to probe the deaths of all of those killed in protests over the past few months.
"So the Ethiopian government if it is not hiding, I repeat if it is not hiding something both from the Ethiopian people and the international community, it should allow independent inquiry to look into the deaths of the past 10, 11 months and what is happening now, what happened before yesterday," he said.
Sporadic protests have erupted in Oromiya in the last two years, initially sparked by a land row but increasingly turning more broadly against the government. Since late 2015, scores of protesters have been killed in clashes with police.
In Sunday's incident, some protesters waved the red, green and yellow flag of the Oromo Liberation Front, a rebel group banned by the government, witnesses said.
Gudina said the authorities were to blame for the deaths.
"It is caused by the government action which was not necessary at all because people were very peaceful, very peaceful. In fact as usual the flags of other organisations were not there. I saw that the government is showing one flag. One OLF flag, otherwise people used the traditional Oromo flag," he said.
The government blames rebel groups and dissidents abroad for stirring up the protests and provoking violence. It dismisses charges that it clamps down on free speech or on its opponents.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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