Ethiopian authorities have arrested two suspects for the murder of a popular political singer, whose death last week sparked protests in which 166 people were killed.
The shooting of Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, a widely revered musician within his Oromo ethnic group, sparked protests in Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromiya region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described his murder as “a perverse act”.
In a televised statement on Friday, Attorney General Adanech Abebe said the gunman was acting on the orders of an anti-government group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF-Shene).
The two men arrested included the alleged shooter and an accomplice. A third suspect was still at large, said Adenech.
“We arrested those who killed him and those who collaborated in the massacre,” she added. “We will continue to guarantee the rule of law.”
The suspects have not yet been charged.
Haacaaluu sang in Oromo, the language of the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. His assassination exploited grievances fueled by decades of government repression and what the Oromo describe as their long exclusion from political power.
Abiy, himself an Oromo, came to power in 2018 as the first modern Ethiopian leader of this ethnic group, after months of violent protests that led to the resignation of his predecessor.
The unrest last week was the deadliest since Abiy took office. The Prime Minister launched a vast political and economic overhaul in what has long been one of the most tightly controlled countries in Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for helping to ease tensions with neighboring Eritrea.
But increased freedoms under his leadership have also been accompanied by an increase in ethnic violence, and some Oromo figures say he hasn’t done enough to address their long-standing grievances.