Funeral begins for Ethiopian singer whose killing sparked deadly protests By Reuters

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The protests were sparked by the assassination of popular musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa on Monday night and spread from Addis Ababa to the surrounding Oromiya region.

Dozens of people have been killed amid protests following the fatal shooting of a famous anti-government singer in Ethiopia.

In Addis Ababa, eight people were killed in violence that included multiple bomb blasts, says BBC Ethiopia reporter Kalkidan Yibeltal.

Trouble started when Hachalu's body was being transported to his native town of Ambo, west of Addis Ababa for burial, but Mr Jawar and his supporters intercepted it and tried to return it to the capital.

The funeral of Hachalu Hundessa, the slain Ethiopian singer, was held Thursday in his hometown of Ambo, in the Oromia region.

Only a small crowd of emotional family members and mourners were allowed to be present as the singer's casket was lowered into the ground next to a church in Ambo.

Abiy, Haacaaluu and Jawar are all Oromo, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, which has long complained of being excluded from power.

Members of the military, federal police and regional police were out in force, he told Reuters news agency.

Hundeessaa was Oromo, an ethnic group that has historically been repressed.

One of the prominent opposition figures arrested, Oromo media mogul Jawar Mohammed, is a former ally of Abiy's.

Funeral begins for Ethiopian singer whose killing sparked deadly protests By Reuters
Funeral begins for Ethiopian singer whose killing sparked deadly protests By Reuters

The tense atmosphere saw a heavy military presence at Hachalu's funeral, and many Ambo residents reported being turned away by police.

His songs had provided a soundtrack to a generation of Oromo protesters whose three years of anti-government demonstrations finally forced the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in 2018.

Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa has now been buried after he was shot dead in the capital Addis Ababa earlier this week.

In Harar, the capital of Harari regional state, protesters have toppled down an equestrian statue of Ras Makonnen (1852 - 1906), who was the father of Emperor Haile Selassie I, and was the first governor of the city of Harar. Many welcomed the 2018 appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed but now some say he has not done enough for his community and question his credentials as an Oromo leader.

The musician's death and the protests come as political tensions rise following the indefinite postponement of elections due in August, on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why have Oromos been protesting?

Demonstrations erupted in 2016 and pressure built on the federal government.

Most of his lyrics had focused on the rights of the country's Oromo ethnic group and were used during previous protests.

"Today's ruling party and the prime minister would not have come to power if it were not for the enormous contribution that Haacaaluu made to the Oromo protest movement".

His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had always been one of the continent's most repressive states, and he won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighboring Eritrea.

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