Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on June 8, 2024 

Ethiopian leader’s remarks about alleged coup plotters taken out of context

During a parliamentary session on July 4, 2024, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed warned dissidents abroad to think twice about trying to oust his government by force. On the same day, a clip from Abiy’s address was published online with captions claiming this meant the country had thwarted a coup attempt. But this is misleading: while Abiy hinted that exiled individuals might have intentions to overthrow the government, he did not say the state had quelled a recent coup attempt.

The video originated on TikTok on July 4, 2024, and was published the same day on Facebook where the post has been shared more than 460 times. 

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on June 8, 2024 

An Amharic caption at the top of the video translates to “the failed coup”. Another line of text at the bottom of the clip reads: “The coup that has failed from the beginning”.

The 90 seconds of footage shows Abiy addressing parliament. It starts off with Abiy saying: “Let me advise my fathers and elder brothers … Recently in some areas, our fathers have been discussing a coup d’état.”

The Facebook post also contains a long list of hashtags with the names of celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie. This is often a tactic to broaden the post’s reach and gain followers.

The original TikTok video  was published by an account with more than 9,400 followers and has been shared more than 200 times. 

Abiy address 

Abiy addressed a regular session of the House of Peoples' Representatives on July 4, 2024 (archived here) during which he confirmed negotiations to secure funding from the International Monetary Fund had entered the final stage. 

Abiy also spoke about the ongoing armed conflicts in the country.

However, he did not say his government put down a recent coup. 

Plotters beware

AFP Fact Check used the video verification tool InVID-WeVerify to conduct reverse image searches on keyframes from the video.

We found 80 minutes of original footage from the parliamentary session published on YouTube by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), a state-owned broadcaster (archived here). 

The segment used in the misleading video starts 13 minutes into the longer YouTube version and ends at 14’32”. 

“Let me advise my fathers and elder brothers. Recently in some areas, our fathers have been discussing a coup d’état,” Abiy says, without naming any of the alleged conspirators. 

“We come from the military. We built the institutions in a way that ensures that a coup will never succeed in Ethiopia.” 

In June, a claim circulated on social media that Gedu Andargachew, a former Abiy ally and erstwhile foreign minister currently living in the US, was working to topple Ethiopia’s government. 

The Ethiopian government has not officially responded to Gedu's alleged involvement in the plan to overthrow the Ethiopian government. Gedu, who is from the Amhara ethnic group, was replaced as Abiy’s security advisor by Redwan Hussein in June 2022 (archived here). 

In August 2023, Gedu boldly criticised the ongoing military operation in Amhara during a parliamentary session to ratify the state of emergency imposed on the region in the same month (archived here), and subsequently, he fled to the US. 

“The only coup in Ethiopia was 50 years ago,” Abiy added during his address. “Now it will never succeed. Never. My advice for my elders and fathers is not to waste time.” 

In 1974, the Marxist Derg regime staged a successful coup d'état against Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. The event led to the Ethiopian Revolution, which Abiy was referring to (archived here). 

Nowhere in his speech did he say the state had quelled a recent coup attempt. 

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