Rebels or government behind Ethiopia terror blasts?

Nine bombs exploded across Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa May 12, killing four people and wounding dozens. (AP, May 13) The Oromi separatists deny involvement. But Ethiopia has no shortage of ethnic separatist struggles, as we have noted. And also no shortage of reasons to suspect its own government. From the Sudan Tribune, May 13:

ADDIS ABABA — The Oromo rebel movement denied any involvement in the nine bombs attacks across Ethiopian capital, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is instead accusing the authorities of a cover up.

In a statement to Radio France Internationale (RFI), the OLF spokesperson Lencho Bati said “We are not related to these bombings in any way. The government is accusing the opposition, but the OLF is not involved in these attacks”. No one has claimed responsibility. But federal officials have blamed separatist rebels, notably the Oromo Liberation Movement, Somali Muslim extremists and opposition groups, which the government has accused of trying to foment a coup after disputed elections last year.

While Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, has claimed the material for the explosives has come from arch-rival neighbour Eritrea, a charge denied by Eritrean authorities.

“There is no law and order in Ethiopia and the government has no legitimacy to govern and it is simply looking for a way to divert the attention of the international community by terrorizing Ethiopians and blaming it on the opposition” said Bati.

He further added “all are accusing the Ethiopian government and we are suspecting it is the government that planned and carried out these attacks to tarnish the image of the opposition”.

The attacks came days before the anniversary of last year’s general election on Monday. International observers had called the balloting seriously flawed and opposition politicians have refused to take up their posts to protest what they called government rigging.

Tension has been high in Addis Ababa for months since at least 84 people died – many at the hands of police – during opposition-led protests against alleged fraud in the May 2005 election.

The protests resulted in the imprisonment of the entire leadership of the opposition Coalition of Unity and Democracy party and more than a dozen journalists on a wide range of charges including genocide, treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

See our last post on Ethiopia.