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Human Rights Watchdog Calls for Restraint Following Protests

ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian Human rights watchdog appealed for security forces to exercise restraint following days of violent protests in the Amhara regional state.

The call on Wednesday comes after nearly a week of continued protests over the plans to reorganize regional special armed forces. Some reports say at least five people died in the violent protests.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says it is closely following the development, particularly in Bahir Dar, Kobo, Debre Birhan, Kombolcha, Wereta, and Marawi.

The human rights watchdog also called for investigations into the killings it said were carried out by security forces and other unknown people.

“Security forces should exercise restraint from using lethal weapons in responding to protests,” HERC’s Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele said on Thursday.

Protests broke out last week when the government announced a plan to dissolve regional special forces and integrate them into the national army or police.

The move will strengthen the country’s security apparatus, authorities say.

Protestors, however, say the dissolution of the Amhara special force will leave the region undefended against attacks.

The ruling Prosperity Party’s regional branch blamed the violence on “failure to create awareness” and said the government was ready to resolve any issues through dialogue.

All parties “should consult on the peaceful implementation of the special forces integration to regular security forces,” Commissioner Daniel said.

Many of the major cities in the region returned to normalcy yesterday with businesses and offices reopening.

EM/News Agencies