Ethiopian Defence MinisterLemma Megerssa and two other top officials have been temporarily suspended fromthe ruling Prosperity Party’s central committee.
Mr Lemma was once a closeally of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and a key figure in the country’spolitical and economic reform over the past few years.
Prior to being appointed as a defence minister he was the head of the country’s most-populous state, Oromia.
But last November, Mr Lemmapublicly criticised the prime minister’s efforts to reorganise and rebrand theEthiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – a coalition of four ethnicbased parties that has been in power since the early 1990s.
The EPRDF was renamed as the Prosperity Party.
He also cast doubts on Mr Abiy’s philosophy of Medemer (coming together).
The announcement of his suspension comes after the Oromia wing of the ruling party held a two-daysummit in the wake of ethnic and religious violence that claimed the lives ofmore than 170 people.
A spokesperson for the partyaccused Mr Lemma of disregarding the party and his duties.
It is not yet clear if Mr Lemmawill continue holding the position of defence minister.
Teyba Hassen, who was Mr Lemma’s deputy when he was head of Oromia state, is also among those suspendedfor reasons that are related to the recent violence, the spokesperson said.