The troops true motive for marching on his office, ‘plotted to kill Ethiopia PM’

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PM Abiy says anti-reform elements were behind armed soldiers who marched on his office

(AP) Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister told Parliament today that the march on his office by 250 fully armed disgruntled soldiers was the latest attempt to challenge his rule. He already has faced an assassination attempt since taking office on April 16 this year. Watch the PM’s speech below:

The protest by the soldiers, which caused concern in the capital and prompted the government to cut internet services for hours, had been described as being over a “pay issue.” Abiy, a former soldier, defused the situation by joining the troops in push-ups.

On Thursday the prime minister blamed some elements of being behind the incident, without giving details. “Though it is difficult to say all the soldiers marched to my office with the same agenda, it was an attempt to derail the ongoing reforms.”

Earlier this week the Ethiopian National Defense Force chief said military officers suspected of inciting the incident were in custody. Gen. Seare Mekonnen said the manner in which some of the soldiers acted was “unconstitutional” and “out of military discipline.”

“The prime minister has handled the soldiers in a smart way,” Seyoum Teshome, a prominent blogger, told The Associated Press. “But the way those soldiers managed to march to his office without any hurdles shows the security apparatus has collapsed. It shows that there was a sabotage and indeed was also a dangerous move.”

Rebellious soldiers are a rare sight in Ethiopia, a key U.S. security ally in the Horn of Africa region. It has one of the largest armies in Africa.

The 42-year-old Abiy announced sweeping political and economic reforms after taking office. The new government now faces the challenge of opening up political space while keeping tensions among some of the country’s scores of ethnic groups in check.