An Ethiopian official says plans to expand the capital have been cancelled following deadly protests by locals who opposed the move.

Getachew Reda, the minister for government communication affairs, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that officials in the Oromia region decided to stop the plan and that the federal government will respect their decision.

He added, however, that those who participated in protests against expanding Addis Ababa face criminal prosecution.

Human Rights Watch said last week that at least 140 people had been killed over two months in a government crackdown targeting protesters.

The protesters were led by students who said the expansion plan would lead to the displacement of thousands of farmers.