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The statue of Abune Petros was taken down to be temporarily placed at the National Museum of Ethiopia on Thursday.
The decision to move the statue came after the China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) started the construction of the 34km Addis Light Rail Transit (LRT) under the supervision of the Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC). A committee composed of the Addis Ababa city Culture and Tourism Bureau, the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority (AACRA) and ERC oversaw the removal of the statue and will also supervise the subsequent restoration.
A team, which included experts who took part in the re-erection of one of the Axum Obelisks, was involved in temporarily placing the statue on the premises of the National Museum.
The LRT’s North-to-South section begins from Adwa Square, which is a few hundred meters away from where Abune Petros’ statue [was] situated, and will pass under it after the restoration of the statue, via an underground tunnel to Kaliti.
It was stated that the China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) will begin digging up the area and construct the concrete walls of a future underground tunnel for the city’s first ever electric rail transit. It was also stated that the contractor will be digging 100 meters along the Abuna Petros Street and the tunnel will be 20 meters deep.
During the Italian invasion in 1936, Abune Petros decried the invasion and preached resistance. The Italians arrested the archbishop on 29 July 1936, took him to the very square where his statue [was] standing and executed him by firing squad.
In 1941, after the Italians were driven out, the original statue, now found on the premises of the St. George Cathedral, was erected in memory of the archbishop by Emperor Haile Selassie. The first statue portrays the archbishop in full bishopric robe, a cross and a Bible in his hands, while the second one which was removed on Thursday, was erected by the Derg regime and depicts Abune Petros with his hands chained and a machinegun under his feet.