Ethiopia Orthodox leaders postpone protest called amid hegemony claims

The Orthodox Church in Ethiopia has called off demonstrations planned for Sunday following a meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The protests followed the creation of a breakaway synod by Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church bishops in Oromia.

Breakaway bishops accused the Church of discrimination and linguistic and cultural hegemony, saying congregations in Oromia are not served in their native language, claims rejected by the patriarchate.

Secretary to the patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Abune Petros, said: “The Holy Synod has postponed the February 12 peaceful demonstration for an indefinite period of time, not because of a change of position, but because of the government’s agreement and decision to solve the problem immediately, within the deadline set by the church, which opened its doors for peace.”

At least 30 people have been killed in protests in the past week and social networks had been restricted. It follows claims by breakaway bishops the church was discriminating against them over the use of their own language in Oromia

Orthodox leaders have long complained of persecution, including the burning of churches several years ago, and relations with the government have been tense in the past, including over the Tigray conflict.