ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s federal police were deployed to universities across the country on Tuesday, the government said, as authorities sought to calm ethnic tensions which have claimed the lives of seven students in the past three months.
Since taking power in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has implemented sweeping political reforms that have won him praise but also lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions between Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups.
In October, 86 people were killed and 409 detained during protests against the treatment of a prominent activist.
“We have decided to deploy federal police to all 45 public universities across the country because the security situation could not be managed by campus security, some of whom were implicated in violent clashes,” Ministry of Science and Higher Education spokesman Dechassa Gurmu said.
He said five campus security guards had been arrested as of Tuesday for taking part in violent clashes with students.
Dechassa said he did not know how many officers would be deployed nationwide, or for what period.
Last year, ethnic violence forced more than 2 million people from their homes and killed hundreds, the United Nations and monitoring groups say.
On Tuesday, Abiy collected the Nobel Peace Prize for forging a peace accord that ended two decades of hostility with Eritrea. [nL8N28K3SD]
Writing by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Catherine Evans