July 29, 2019
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been consistently inconsistent when it comes to the question of statehood in what is known as Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region.
When ethnic Sidama asked for statehood soon after Abiy assumed office, he was quick to promise one. It is unclear if PM Abiy’s prompt affirmation was related to radical Oromo ethno-nationalists’s political support for the question.
He did not deliver the promise so much so that radicalized Sidama ethno-nationalists lost patience and declared statehood unilaterally on July 18, 2019, ignoring Abiy’s Ahmed’s warning during his latest appearance.
Apart from humiliating the Federal government, radicalized Sidama youth attacked non-ethnic Sidama communities and at least 60 civilians are killed, not to mention those wounded and destruction of property.
Abiy Ahmed’s government had to opt for imposing a state of emergency in the region so as to protect the safety and security of citizens.
As part of the arrangement of the state of emergency, a Command Post – a body mostly drawn from military commanders and intelligence, took over the task of maintaining security.
The arrangement is still and will be in effect indefinitely. The party that is governing the region disclosed last week that it has suspended senior zone level officials of Sidama and from Hawassa City Administration in connection with the violence. In fact, rumors on social media seem to claim that the leaders are arrested.
It is in this situation that Abiy Ahmed traveled to Arba Minch and Welayta Sodo, in Southern Ethiopia, on July 29 – the day his “Green Legacy” initiative, intended to fight climate change, launched.
After Abiy Ahmed’s affirmative response to Sidama statehood question, at least nine other zonal administration took the Sidama path and decided to have statehood. Wolaita is one of them.
According to a report by DW Amharic, Welayta community members, who gave Abiy Ahmed a warm reception upon arrival in their region, had a town hall meeting with him. And the dominant question was statehood.
But Abiy’s response to the statehood question seems to be rather patronizing, unlike the case of the Sidama to which he committed himself.
He wants Wolaita “to get out of emotional feeling and have a consultation if statehood status is in their interest.”
As cited earlier, Welayta Zone council had already discussed the matter before and reached an agreement to lodge an application with relevant Federal institution, the election board, in this case, demanding a referendum for statehood.
A body tasked to study the demand for statehood in the region, and this body was formed by Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) – a party that governs the region, released its findings last week in which it said that the majority of the people in the region seem to be interested in keeping the existing administrative arrangement and that the existing arrangement was formed after extensive consultation with intellectuals and people in the region.
Abiy Ahmed’s move to patronize Welayta seems to give a clue that perhaps Wolaita’s demand for statehood will not be entertained. The question is how can the government entertain Sidama’s question while sort of stifling other zones in the region from pursuing statehood status. It remains to be seen.
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Whoever wrote this report is worse than the secessionist themselves. Is saying “the people need to get out of their emotion and have discussion patronising?” I don’t understand why you want to create chaos just for the sake of earning more money!! You are no better than corrupt officials.
I couldn’t see any specific in your writing that the PM entertained the statehood of Sidama while he rejected wolayita(there is no specific promise given to both parties except the right be be a state). Every part of our country plays a role of victim(as if by claiming the only solution is statehood). Everyone trying to identifies with a group in order to get protection(ethinc group, political group, religious group etc….). The real issue is hatred(I don’t mean all). The question of statehood is provoked by what happened to the settlers in both regions. In our country context, the question of statehood(victimhood) is an emotional question.
Fake, twisted and poisonous news. Borkena is always full of lies and deceit. The prime minister never promised state for Sidama, he gave the same and similar answer for both and you brought this news to demonise the oromo. You are oromo phobic and xenophobic media. Go to hell.
I’m happy to hear that the military commanders and intellegence fully control sidama region and remove those crazy nationalist leaders .
Ethinic based- statehood is fullish idea! This statehood issue can not benefit anybody. Let us come out of imotional feelings. We Ethiopians are intermingeled, crouded of citizens, with no space between us. During heavy rain, with in a croud, instead of ethinic based-umbrella, overall country based-tent is a perfect solution for all Ethiopian’s. Please thing again and again…….
I respect your opinion and you are entitled to it; but, the statement you made is wrong. In fact, the Prime Minister clearly stated to the people of Sidama that he has no authority to “grant” Statehood and that they should seek the proper venue if they choose Statehood. As someone who has followed your page and have a privilege of posting my articles on your page, I am a little puzzled by the following statement you have made in your editorial “It is unclear if PM Abiy’s prompt affirmation was related to radical Oromo ethno-nationalists’s political support for the question.” If anything, the PM working hard for united Ethiopia and telling us to get rid of the “narrow nationalist” mentality. To attribute such a statement for a PM who has been telling us “ከቀበሌኛ አስተሳሰብ እንውጣ” is uncalled for. What I heard from him directly when he held a meeting with the Sidama community last year is that he has no authority to grant Statehood. As a matter of law, he has no legal authority and only the current constitution allows Statehood through the proper and legal venue.