Ethiopia coup thwarted after army chief killed by his own bodyguard at home
Prime minister says state forces in ‘full control’ after attempted putsch
The Ethiopian army’s chief of staff has been shot dead inside his home by his own bodyguard, said the country’s prime minister – who linked the assassination to a thwarted coup attempt.
Military leader Seare Mekonnen was killed at his residence in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa along with a retired army general visiting him at the time. Mr Mekonnen’s bodyguard has been arrested over the deaths on Saturday evening.
Prime minister Abiy Ahmed appeared on state television on Sunday to reveal details of a failed coup in the northern region of Amhara, which he claimed was led by a high-ranking military officer and others within the military.
Mr Abiy said state forces were in “full control” in Amhara following a gun attack in the regional capital of Bahir Dar on Saturday night.
The prime minister’s spokesman later explained the authorities believe the Addis Ababa assassination and the attempted coup in Amhara are connected. “There is a link between the two attacks,” the spokesman said.
Amhara state president Ambachew Mekonnen and his advisor were shot and killed in the attack by rebel soldiers on a building in Bahir Dar.
The prime minister’s office claimed the foiled coup had been led by a renegade brigadier named General Asamnew Tsige, who had recently been pardoned by the prime minister after being jailed for some offences.
Most of the perpetrators of the attack in Bahir Dar have been apprehended and others are being hunted down, according to the authorities.
Prime minister Abiy Ahmed announces failed coup on television, Sunday, 23 June, 2019
Brigadier General Tefera Mamo, the head of special forces in Amhara, told state TV that “most of the people who attempted the coup have been arrested, although there are a few still at large”.
Ethiopia’s internet appeared to be shut down on Sunday following the attacks.
The attempted coup in Amhara is the latest challenge to Mr Abiy, who was elected last year as a reform-minded young leader.
Mr Abiy has captured the imagination of many Ethiopians with his political and economic reforms, including the surprise acceptance of a peace agreement with bitter rival Eritrea, the opening of state-owned sectors to private investment and the release of thousands of prisoners including opposition figures once sentenced to death.
Yet the prime minister has faced strong opposition. In June 2018, only months in office, an attempt to hurl a grenade at Mr Abiy caused a deadly explosion at a massive rally in support of the sweeping changes in Ethiopia. Nine police officials were arrested over that incident, state media reported.
In October rebellious Ethiopian soldiers protested over pay, causing a security incident in the capital. Ethiopia’s army is one of the largest in Africa.