NAIROBI/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Authorities have shut off Internet access in eastern Ethiopia amid an outbreak of violence there, residents said on Wednesday, a sign of the challenges facing reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in containing ethnic tensions in parts of the country.
Violence broke out on Saturday in Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region, with mobs looting properties owned by ethnic minorities.
The residents in Oromia and Harar said they were concerned the violence could spread from the Somali region into other parts of eastern Ethiopia, in part because tit-for-tat ethnic reprisals were one part of the unrest that roiled the country for three years until the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in February.
Since replacing Hailemariam in April, Abiy has turned politics and the economy on its head in the country of 100 million people but continuing ethnic violence poses a challenge to his reform drive.
During the protests before Abiy took office, the government frequently switched off the Internet, sometimes for several months at a time, in Oromia, a large region that surrounds the capital Addis Ababa and extends east all the way to the Somali region.
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