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Sidama nationalist leaders released on 50,000 birr bail

Sidama nationalist leaders
Image : SM

August 16, 2019

Hawassa City High Court first criminal bench released on Friday leaders of radicalized ethnic Sidama nationalist youth (Ejeto) leaders on a 50,000 Ethiopian Birr bail.

Among the nine suspects to be released on bail are executives of Sidama Media Network (SMN) Getahun Deguye, his deputy Tariku Lemma and Belay Balgoda who is a board member of SMN.

The court decided to release them on bail after rejecting police request for 14 more days “to complete investigation.”  However, the court advised police to appeal the decision if it wishes so, according to a report by Voice of America Amharic Service.

Next court appearance for the leaders is on August 20, 2019.

Police accused the suspects of orchestrating July 18, 2019 mayhem in Hawassa city and in towns surrounding Hawassa. As well, suspects were accused of challenging the constitutional order, at Federal and regional levels, through violence.

Some politicized Ethiopians who are active in social media do not seem to see the release of the radicalized ethnic Sidama nationalist leaders as an outcome of political arrangement and they see radical Oromo ethno-nationalists, who are believed to be master’s of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government, behind their release.

Sidama zone police commander recently admitted that at least 53 civilians were killed and more than 54 are wounded as a result of the violence that started on July 18, 2019, in Hawassa city.  It happened when radicalized ethnic Sidama nationalists moved to bypass administrative and legal procedure to declare ethnic Sidama state.

State of emergency situation that the Federal government imposed in the region on the invitation of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Regional state is still in effect and members of the defense forces are deployed in the region to maintain law and order.

Meanwhile, Sidama Zone council held an emergency meeting and has approved the appointment of Desta Ledamon as head of Sidama Zone Administration. He is replacing Qare Chawcha who was removed from the position following the violence in Sidama zone on July 18 and in the ensuing few days.

Also, Sidama Zone council asked this week the National Electoral Board to Ethiopia to disclose a date for the referendum to decide on the question of ethnic Sidama statehood. It means that if the referendum happens and the ethnic Sidama community members vote in favor of new statehood, then the Sidama Zone will break away from Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Regional state and be a state on its own.

The Election Board has already disclosed in on July 16, 2019, that it will organize the Sidama referendum within five months of time.

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