ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - A grenade attack at a weekend rally attended by Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was part of a wider plot to disrupt the economy, his office said on Friday, saying the blast coincided with a power outage and telecoms disruption.
Abiy had just finished a speech to tens of thousands of supporters in the central square in Addis Ababa on Saturday when a grenade exploded, killing two people and injuring scores.
“It has been proven that the attempt to disrupt the rally involved other plots in addition to hurling the grenade,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
“First, a power outage and a telecommunications network disruption coincided with the event. Second, coordinated acts of economic sabotage are being undertaken to worsen the cost of living and thirdly, various agencies meant to provide different services to the public are being prevented from delivering.”
Thirty arrests have been made since the incident on the weekend. It is not clear who planned the attack, which occurred at a rally in support of Abiy’s push for radical reforms.
Since taking office in April, he has tried to open Ethiopia up to the outside world, after decades of security-obsessed isolation, by pardoning dissidents and partly privatizing key firms among other changes.
Abiy is also trying to resolve a border dispute with Eritrea, leading to a visit by a high-level delegation from Asmara to Addis Ababa on Tuesday for the first time since the two countries fought between 1998 and 2000.
Reporting by Aaron Maasho; writing by Costas Pitas; editing by Larry King