Amid protests, Ethiopia cancels plan to expand the capital

AP News
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Posted: Jan 13, 2016 10:59 AM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian official says plans to integrate the capital with surrounding towns have been cancelled following deadly protests by locals who opposed the move.

Getachew Reda, the minister for government communication affairs, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that officials in the Oromia region decided to stop the plan and that the federal government will respect their decision.

He added, however, that those who participated in protests against the plan face criminal prosecution.

Human Rights Watch said last week that at least 140 people had been killed over two months in a government crackdown targeting protesters who opposed what they believed to be a government plan to expand Addis Ababa, the capital. The government has denies this, saying it only seeks to link Addis Ababa with nearby towns.

The protesters were led by students who said the expansion plan would lead to the displacement of thousands of farmers.

Amid the protests, the U.S. urged the Ethiopian government to exercise restraint.