December 10, 2022

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Slogans against Addis Ababa mayor in Adwa celebrations

Ethiopia: Adanech Abebe, Addis Ababa mayor was the target of slogans chanted during a huge gathering held in the capital city today.

Ethiopians held Adwa celebration at Menelik square in the capital Addis Ababa and several other towns today. Each year on March 2, Ethiopians from all walks of life gather at Menelik Square in the heart of the capital Addis Ababa to celebrate the Victory of Adwa.

In 1895, Ethiopian Emperor Menelik fought the battle of Adwa, the last and most decisive of a series of battles against the invading colonial forces of Italy. Italy had ambitions to bring the whole East Africa region under its control. After their defeat in Adwa in 1895, Italians recognized Ethiopia as an independent and sovereign state the following year.

Main Adwa celebrations are held at Menelik square in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on March 2. The day is a national holiday. But today’s celebrations were held at two places in Addis Ababa i.e. Menelik square and Adwa bridge.

During the celebrations, some participants chanted slogans against Adanech Abebe, Addis Ababa’s mayor. “Step down, Adanech. Step down, Adanech”, they chanted.

Interestingly when Eskinder Nega, head of Balderas political party arrived at the square, some participants chanted,” He is the mayor. He is the mayor”.

People chanting slogans for Eskinder Nega

Eskinder Nega was released from prison at the start of this year along with other politicians. Since then he has been lashing out at the Addis Ababa, Oromia, and federal governments.

It is being said that Eskinder Nega and some Amhara politicians staged this protest against the Addis Ababa mayor. The majority of celebration participants were carrying Ethiopian flags without a star sign. Addis Ababa, Oromia, and the federal government use the Ethiopian flag with a star sign. But some groups in the Amhara region use the flag without a star sign. The flag has been a source of controversy between some groups in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

Yesterday Addis Ababa government backtracked on its announcement of changing the venue of the Adwa celebrations.

Two days ago, the Addis Ababa city government, Oromia regional government, and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism changed the venue of the Adwa celebration from Menelik square to Adwa bridge. Both Menelik square and Adwa bridge are situated in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Read more

The change was rejected by religious figures, some politicians, and groups especially those based in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism is led by minister Kejelea Merdasa. Kejela is from a breakaway faction of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). He is from the Oromia region.

Addis Abab government is led by mayor Adanech Abebe who is from the Oromia region. Amhara region-based groups accused Oromo politicians of changing the venue. They accused Oromo politicians of changing the venue because of the name of Menelik square. Emperor Menelik’s legacy is viewed differently in the Amhara and Oromia regions. Some Oromos claim that Emperor Menelik committed genocide of Oromos during his rule.

After public outcry, it was announced that the celebrations would be held at Menelik square. It seems prevailing public anger was exploited by Eskinder Nega and other politicians in today’s gathering to further their political ambitions and to weaken the Addis Ababa government.

Though Adwa victory day, March 2, is seen as a day of national unity in Ethiopia, Tigray held its separate celebrations. Tigray Ethiopia conflict has been going on since November 2020.