Protesters in Ethiopia’s restive Oromia region demanded the government withdraw a gold-mining permit from a company owned by Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi because of alleged pollution.
Demonstrators have blockaded roads in Shakiso, 358 kilometers (222 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa, since April 30 to press their demand that Mohammed International Development & Research Organization Companies’ license to mine the metal be canceled, said Addisu Bullalla, a spokesman for the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress.
Protests have spread to the towns of Ginchi and Nekemte in western Oromia, he said. The demonstrations “will spread all across Oromia if the government doesn’t cancel this agreement, bring Midroc to justice, and make Midroc pay compensation for the damage they have caused,” Addisu said.
The protests echo unrest that erupted three years ago at the mine and became part of large-scale anti-government rallies that earlier this year culminated in the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. The demonstrations have left hundreds of people dead and the country is under its second state of emergency in two years.
Critics of Midroc’s mine allege the company dumped chemicals from its operations near Shakiso into rivers used by residents and livestock for drinking water, resulting in birth deformities and animal deaths.
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