Thousands protest against the government in Ethiopia


A funeral procession transporting the coffin of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi makes its way through the streets of Addis Ababa on September 2, 2012. Meles Zenawi died on August 20, 2012. His funeral marks the end of a 21 year rule of the country.


Carl De Souza

Ethiopia on Sunday saw a rare outbreak of anti-government anger, with 10,000 people defying authorities in an Addis Ababa march, reported Reuters

The opposition-led rally is the first public response to the new government of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who took over after the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi last August, said the Associated Press

It is also the first show of defiance after a government crackdown killed hundreds following the nation's disputed 2005 election. 

Things have reportedly not improved since then. There is only one opposition member in Ethiopia's 547-member parliament, said Reuters, reflecting the level of dissent tolerated by the authorities. 

Yilekal Getachew of the Semayawi (Blue) Party that led the Sunday march told Reuters: "We have repeatedly asked the government to release political leaders, journalists and those who asked the government not to intervene in religious affairs." 

"If these questions are not resolved and no progress is made in the next three months, we will organize more protests," Getachew said, adding: "It is the beginning of our struggle."

Demonstrators gathered on Sunday in the capital, Addis Ababa, yelling slogans like, "We need freedom," and "We need justice," said AP

Ethiopia is one of Africa's most promising economies, but the ruling government is routinely criticized for rights violations.