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UN demands Ethiopia admit observers to protest areas
Geneva (AFP) - The United Nations on Wednesday urged Ethiopia to allow international observers in to parts of the country hit by deadly weekend clashes between security forces and protesters.
At least 49 people were killed at the weekend as the authorities cracked down on a wave of anti-government unrest in two key regions, central-western Oromia and Amhara in the north.
A spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva told AFP that news coming from the two regions was "extremely alarming", saying there had been "no genuine attempt at ensuring accountability" since reports of abuses by security forces began emerging in December.
"We urge the government to allow access for international observers into the affected regions to be able to establish what exactly transpired," the spokeswoman said.
Demonstrations began in November 2015 in Oromia, which surrounds the capital, over a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa.
The region's Oromo people feared their farmland would be seized, and though the authorities soon dropped the urban enlargement project and brutally suppressed the protests, the anger has continued.
Protests have since swept other parts of Oromia, and more recently to Amhara, causing disquiet in the corridors of power in the country, a key US ally and crucial partner in the fight against terrorism in east Africa.
One rally was even held in Addis Ababa on Saturday, a rare event in the capital of a nation ruled by a regime considered among the most repressive in Africa.
More than 60 percent of the country's almost 100 million people are either Amhara or Oromo.