(By Paul Brizzi, Contributing Journalist) For two days, reports circulated that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had threatened to bury the enemy.
On Wednesday, the official broadcast of state television announced that a man arrested at the international airport would be judged on a charge of inciting violence. “If he is found guilty,” the broadcast said, “he could be sentenced to death or other punishment.”
The man’s name was Buneh, and he was led out of the airport in handcuffs. Days earlier, Abiy had claimed that Buneh was a big business figure with allegiances to an exiled opposition figure in London. Buneh and his associates were quoted in the reports as stating that they had long wanted “to kill the government” and that “I will go and bury Mr Abiy, and I will also go to any place to bury you, my enemy.”
At a press conference Thursday, Buneh stated that the remarks were “irresponsible and irresponsible.”
He said Abiy’s statement represented an incitement to violence. In particular, Buneh said, he said in a letter to Abiy in June that he would go to Todate — a district in the Tigray region near the Sudanese border — to lay flowers and read out a short biography of Abiy. The letter later disappeared from his account, Buneh claimed.
Yet a leading member of Abiy’s administration rejected Buneh’s account. Sheidi Simana, spokeswoman for the prime minister, told a group of reporters on Friday that the language of Buneh’s letter was simply that of people who “have never experienced a prime minister and democracy in their life.”
Shiri Simana said, “I have to tell you, Abiy Ahmed is not a Messiah, and he isn’t a happy man. What we need is effort, we don’t need false wind.”
Simana said that Abiy would do “everything” to ensure that Buneh’s statement was “handled properly.” She said she did not know whether Buneh was currently in Todate.
Follow Paul Brizzi on Twitter: @PaulBrizzi
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