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Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit

By Nizar Manek

Stores are closed along a street during a strike against the recent declaration of State of Emergency in Sebeta, neighborhood of Addis Ababa, on March 5, 2018. The strike has been called for 3 days by various opposition parties, throughout the Oromia region, prohibiting and businesses to be open. / AFP PHOTO / Zacharias Abubeker (Photo credit should read ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Strikes protesting Ethiopia’s state of emergency spread across the restive Oromia region ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s arrival for talks with the Horn of Africa nation’s embattled government.

The closing of shops and roads by members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group is the latest sign of discontent in Oromia state, where unrest has prompted the country’s second state of emergency in two years. Tillerson is due in Ethiopia this week as part of his first government visit to sub-Saharan Africa, less than a month after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned.

More than two years of protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions have left hundreds of people dead, while recent conflict between the Oromia and Somali regions has forced more than 900,000 people from their homes. Combined, they pose the largest challenge to Ethiopia’s ruling coalition since it took power a quarter-century ago.

Youth in the sprawling Oromia territory, which surrounds the capital, Addis Ababa, announced three days of strikes Monday to protest the emergency measures that Ethiopia’s parliament ratified without meeting a required two-thirds quorum, said Bekane Tadese, a lecturer at Addis Ababa University.

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