Sunday’s protest in Ethiopia involving thousands of people in Gondar, a city in Amhara region, is a rare example of an anti-government demonstration in the country.
It was organized on social media but no group has taken responsibility for it. The demonstration comes two weeks after another protests in the city in which 15 people died, including members of the security forces and civilians.
What’s behind the protests?
At the root of the recent demonstrations is a request by representatives from the Welkait community – known as the Welkait Amhara Identity Committee – that their land, which is currently administered by the Tigray regional state, be moved into neighboring Amhara region.
The Welkait committee says community members identify themselves as ethnic Amharas and say they no longer want to be ruled by Tigrayans.
Demonstrations began a fortnight ago but leaders of the Welkait community have been asking for the move for a year.
Amharas used to form the country’s elite and the language remains the most widely spoken in the country.
Is that the only issue?
Observers say that Ethiopia’s governing coalition is dominated by the party from the small Tigray region (TPLF), and some see the protests as a way of criticizing the country’s government.
When Sunday’s demonstration was organized on social media, no mention was made of other issues, but during the protest banners could be seen expressing solidarity with people from the Oromia region.
Since November last year, the government has been dealing with a wave of protests in Oromia as people complain about alleged marginalization. Those demonstrations began over a plan to expand the federal capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia. That plan has been dropped, but the issue highlighted grievances with the government which have not gone away.
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