Ethiopian police have shot dead a security chief suspected of orchestrating a deadly bid to overthrow the regional Amhara government, with possible links to the murder of the army chief, state media reported yesterday.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office had named Amhara security chief Asaminew Tsige as the chief suspect in an “attempted coup” in the region that left its president, top adviser and attorney general dead at the weekend.
A few hours later in what the government said appeared to be a “co-ordinated attack”, the army chief Seare Mekonnen was killed by his bodyguard at his home in Addis Ababa. However details of links between the two attacks and their ultimate motive have not been made clear.
“Asaminew Tsige, who has been in hiding since the failed coup attempt over the weekend has been shot dead” in the regional capital Bahir Dar, state broadcaster EBC reported.
While observers said there were no telltale signs of a concerted national coup, the unrest is a major blow for Abiy, who has embarked on a series of reforms which have unleashed ethnic tensions and bitter political rivalries.
Asaminew was only last year released from almost a decade in prison over a 2009 coup plot, under a mass prisoner amnesty that began under former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and continued under his reformist successor Abiy.
Analysts describe him as a hardline Amhara nationalist who was likely facing removal from his job over efforts to form a militia and rhetoric pushing for territory in neighbouring Tigray to be reclaimed.
He recently appeared in a Facebook video calling for civilians to arm themselves in preparation for attack.