Turmoil at funeral of singer Hachalu Hundessa shows Ethiopia’s ‘combustible’ politics

Abdi Latif Dahir – Tiksa Negeri 02/07/2020
At least 81 people have been killed and dozens injured in the unrest that followed the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, underscoring long-simmering tensions in the Horn of Africa nation.

NAIROBI, Kenya — In life, Hachalu Hundessa’s protest songs roused and united Ethiopians yearning for freedom and justice. He is doing the same in death, with thousands flocking on Thursday to bury him in Ambo, the town 60 miles west of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa where he was born and raised.
Mr. Hundessa, 34, was shot on Monday night by unknown assailants in Addis Ababa and later died of his wounds in a hospital. His death has ignited nationwide protests that have killed 81 people, injured dozens of others and caused extensive property damage. The authorities have blocked the internet and arrested 35 people, including a prominent media magnate and government critic, Jawar Mohammed.
On Thursday, groups of young men, some with machetes, roamed through neighborhoods in Addis Ababa, singling out people from rival ethnic groups for attacks — prompting the government to deploy soldiers to patrol the streets. And in Ambo, witnesses said that the police blocked some people from attending the singer’s funeral, even firing shots at them.
The unrest, analysts say, threatens the stability of Africa’s second-most populous country and deepens the political crisis in a nation already undergoing a roller-coaster democratic transition.