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Ethiopian Government Denies Responsibility for Violence

Ethiopia’s minister of information, Berhan Hailu, denies responsibility for two days of violent protests in which security forces have killed at least 31 people and wounded 150. Mr. Berhan told VOA reporter James Butty that the violence was caused by politically motivated demonstrators who attacked police and public transportation and set fire to homes. He says the protests were illegal [since in Ethiopia, the government must approve demonstrations]. Mr. Berhan says today has been peaceful, with Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan.

Ethiopia’s minister of information also disagreed with allegations by the Committee to Protect Journalists that the government is threatening the independent media, including international broadcasters. He says reports have shown these media to be, in his words, unethical because he says they are working with “unlawful” and “political motivated” people interested in destabilizing the government. Mr. Berhan did not cite any source to substantiate his complaint about the behavior of the independent media.

The Ethiopian official discounted concerns that the protests may be harming investment. In response to travel advisories issued by some Western countries regarding Ethiopia, Mr. Berhan said the government is in firm control of the situation.