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Ethiopian university suspends learning after death of another student

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

ADDIS ABABA - Learning has been temporarily suspended at Dire Dawa University in Ethiopia, the institution has confirmed, adding that it was a precautionary measure.

Tensions built at the university located in the Oromia region, which has been subjected to endless ethnic instigated violence targeting non-locals.

Yihune Alemayehu, the institution confirmed, was found dead within the institution's premises, although the cause of death was not immediately established.

Rowdy students on Saturday engaged the police in running battles, forcing some to quit the institution for safety reasons, local media reported.

Students sent home on Sunday

For those who stayed put, the institution was forced to evacuate them as a temporary measure until a lasting solution is found.

Abaya Degefa, the Vice President of the University told reporters, reporters, that the Senate decided to send students home to "in a bid to safeguard their safety and prevent further killings".

An emergency meeting was called to further discuss the situation, to avert possible break out of violence, the institution added.

“Innocent students should not be dead due to an unstable political situation and instabilities going on outside university grounds," Abaya said.

Second death in the institution

Saturday's mysterious death was the second in as many months within the institution, amid ongoing ethnic violence across the Horn of Africa nation.

A month ago, a student was allegedly thrown from a balcony within the same campus where ethnic Amhara students were demanding the immediate arrest of the murderers.

This, the university leadership said, has deteriorated the situation, leading to ethnic antagonism among students within the campus.

“Our efforts to calm down the situation did not succeed as fights among students continues," Abaya observed.

The students, he added, "lost interest in staying in the campus after they witnessed a student who was attacked using a dagger."

Yihune was a third-year student taking Banking and Finance and comes from Guliso village. His body was sent to the family on Sunday.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's headache

The Saturday's incident at Dire Dawa and subsequent closure of the university add too many challenges Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is facing in Ethiopia.

During his speech at the Millenium Hall on December 20, Abiy Ahmed said: “strong security is organized in all Universities in Ethiopia.”

After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month, Ahmed had to hurriedly leave Oslo in what his media team summed as 'situation at home'.

Ethnic antagonism has spread across the country in recent months, with analysts associating it with Ahmed's reformist agenda that includes embracing democracy.

Over 100 deaths since 2018

With enhanced freedom of speech, ethnic groups that were previously micromanaged, have violently expressed themselves.

The violence has specifically hit the Oromia, Amhara, and Somali regions, with the latter recording 59 deaths after Ahmed took over in 2018.

In October this year, over 78 deaths were recorded in the Oromia region. The clashes erupted following differences between Ahmed and media mogul Jawar Mohammed.

Ethiopia is preparing for polls which are scheduled for May 2020. Already, Ahmed has folded the ruling EPRDF, forming Prosperity Party for the sake of accommodating the minority.


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