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Over 3000 militia to be deployed in Benishangul Gumuz region

Militia will have presence in seven district in the Metekel zone of the Benishangul Gumuz region of Ethiopia

Google map of Benishangul Gumuz region

October 21, 2020 

The Communication Affairs office of the Benishangul Gumuz regional state disclosed on Tuesday that recruitment of over three thousand militia forces is completed. 

Head of the office, Melese Beyene, said that they will be deployed in all districts of the Metekel Zone of the region to maintain peace, as reported by DW Amharic.  

The Federal government deployed members of the Ethiopian Defense Force to the region after a series of security incidents that claimed the lives of over one hundred residents and a Command Post was administering the region.

The action, however, did not resolve the security problem; dozens of civilians were killed last week. Reports emerging from government sources indicated that at least two members of the defense force deployed to respond to the security situation were killed during the latest operation which happened sometime last week. 

The resort to militia recruitment came after the latest security incident. The question is whether militia will resolve security challenges that dwarfed the regular law enforcement in the region and a contingent of the Ethiopian Defense Force that was deployed to the region. 

Earlier this month, authorities in the region disclosed that 504 individuals were arrested in connection with the violence that claimed the lives of thousands of residents in the Metekel zone of the region.  The government also admitted that over 45 regional, zonal, and district-level authorities were, directly and indirectly, involved in facilitating the attacks against civilians which some advocacy groups say is targeting ethnic Amhara and Agew. Government authorities in the Benishangul Gumuz region and some Federal government authorities, on the other hand, tend to project the incidents as “national security challenges” not as ethnic-based attacks. 

“Complex Problem” 

“What is the government doing to address the security situation in the Benishangul Gumuz region?”  was one of the questions Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed faced when Prime Minister he appeared at the parliament on Monday this week. 

His answer was: “It is a complex problem.” He framed the problem as part of the security challenges related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and mentioned that there are different actors. 

The Amhara regional state has confirmed that the victims from the recurrent attack are ethnic-Amhara. In the context of that information, it is questionable why ethnic Amhara are targeted if the intention of the perpetrators is to disrupt the GERD project. 

Activists who are skeptical of Abiy Ahmed demonstrate a propensity to see the recurring attacks against ethnic-Amhara as a manifestation of the expansionist move of radical ethnic Oromo political forces within Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed administration and those who are in the Oromo regional state. 

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