Tens of thousands of protesters have flooded the streets of Gonder in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia on Sunday demanding a change of government due to the unfair distribution of wealth in the country.
The protest staged in defiance of a government order was also in solidarity with the Oromia protests held between November last year to March 2016 in opposition to a government development plan in the region which could affect poor farmers.
It was organised 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 neighbouring 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 criticising the country’s government.
When Sunday’s demonstration was organised 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 marginalisation. 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.
The Oromos are Ethiopia’s most populous ethnic group.
People on Sunday were also calling for the release of a group of 18 Muslims who were imprisoned last year under controversial anti-terror legislation.
With Files from BBC
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