Prominent activist may challenge Ethiopian PM in 2020 election

28/10/2019 12:00
Prominent activist may challenge Ethiopian PM in 2020 election
Activist Jawar Mohammed says prime minister is acting like a dictator

Prominent activist and media entrepreneur Jawar Mohammed has said he might challenge Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in elections planned for next year, accusing him of resorting "to the early signs of dictatorship".

Jawar, who spoke to reporters at his home in Addis Ababa on Friday, had earlier accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him, prompting protests by his supporters in the capital and across Ethiopia's Oromia region on Wednesday and Thursday. Police denied Jawar's claim.

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Amnesty International has said at least 16 people have been confirmed dead in the unrest but that the actual toll is likely higher. Late on Friday, Oromia's police commissioner told Reuters news agency the death toll in two days of protests included 62 protesters and five police officers. Kefyalew Tefera said 13 people died from bullet wounds and the rest from wounds caused by stones.

In an interview with the AFP news agency earlier in the day, Jawar alleged that Abiy - who two weeks ago was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for pursuing regional peacemaking efforts and democratic reforms - seemed to be taking Ethiopia back to "the old ways" of authoritarian rule.

"[Abiy] has resorted to the early signs of dictatorship, of trying to intimidate people, even his very close allies who helped him come to power who happen to disagree with some of the policies and positions and ideologies he's advocating," Jawar said. 

"Intimidation is the start of authoritarian rule."

Abiy has not directly addressed Jawar, but on Tuesday expressed frustration with "media owners" who are seen to be promoting ethnic agendas ahead of Ethiopian unity. The comments were viewed by many as a not-so-veiled reference to Jawar. 

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