By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s defense minister told local media on Wednesday that they had intercepted a large number of firearms being smuggled into the country.
Siraj Fegesa, the defense minister of Ethiopia, said they had seized some 270 Kalashnikov rifles, 200 pistols, and a total of 66,000 bullets while being smuggled into the country “to escalate the conflicts”, the state-affiliated FANA broadcasting corporate reported.
The minister drew attention to the armed clashes that broke out after the country had lifted its ten-month state of emergency in Aug. 2017.
He said the anti-government protests in many parts of the Oromia and Amhara states as well as the recent clashes between the Somali and Oromia regional states had left hundreds dead and caused tens of thousands to flee their villages.Fegesa said, as per the request of both regional states, the national defense forces were deployed in various areas in both the Somali and Oromia regions where the clashes had broken out.
In a rare admission ten days ago, the Ethiopian ruling party said it had internal weaknesses of governance, leading to many socio-political problems that had occurred in the country over the past decade.
The Ethiopian government last week announced that it would free some members of political organizations being kept in detention.
The announcement became a talking point nationwide as many media houses interpreted it as meaning all political prisoners. Later the government backtracked, saying it had never admitted to having political prisoners in the country.
Many opposition figures challenge this claim, saying there have been many prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia to date.