Ethiopia has released a recording of the state militia commander it says led
a failed coup attempt last week in which dozens of people, including five top
officials, were killed.
A state militia commanded by Brigadier General Asamnew Tsige attacked
government buildings in Bahir Dar, the state capital of Ethiopia’s Amhara
region on June 22.
Asamnew, who was killed in a shoot-out on Monday, felt the central
government was not doing enough for the Amhara people, who have been embroiled
in border disputes with other regions and tit-for-tat killings with other
The violence on June 22 has been followed by more than 250 arrests,
potentially deepening resentment against national authorities in the Horn of
The prime minister’s press office said the recording released on Friday was
of a phone conversation between Asamnew and the head of the state-run
Amhara Mass Media Agency. Reuters was not able to independently verify its
“Don’t be scared. Tell the people the of the region especially (Amhara state
capital) Bahir Dar to stay in their homes and also tell the regional security
and the militia to remain calm,” the voice identified as Asamnew’s said.
“We have taken measures against the leaders because the regional ruling
party leaders have sabotaged the peoples’ demands,” he said.
Amhara, home to Ethiopia’s second largest ethnic group, is controlled by the
Amhara Democratic Party, which is part of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition.
Ethnic violence has spiked since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power in
April 2018 and rolled out a series of reforms, unbanning political parties,
releasing political prisoners and welcoming home exiled rebel groups.
Loosening the state’s grip has won him applause abroad but has also
empowered local powerbrokers who are winning support by demanding more power
and resources for their own groups.
On the same night that Asamnew’s forces launched their attacks, the chief of
the army staff and another general were killed in a separate attack in the
national capital Addis Ababa.
Authorities previously said the two attacks were part of the same plot but
on Thursday said a taskforce that includes members of the federal police and
national intelligence is investigating whether the two are linked.