Gurage people feel disenfranchised that the constitutional provision that entrenched ethnic-based federal states in Ethiopia is denied to them. No security incident reported so far in connection with the strike
A stay-at-home strike has been going on in the Gurage zone for more than two days.
Businesses are closed. The streets are quiet. Only bakeries and health facilities were allowed to function – apparently by those who organized the strike.
From reports, the identity of the group that called for the strike is undisclosed at this stage, apparently for fear of reprisal from the government although it is a constitutional right to organize a peaceful protest.
What is known about the strike so far is that a flyer was distributed in Wolkite, the seat of the Gurage zone administration, and Hawarya town.
It called for a peaceful protest calling for a stay-at-home strike to pressure the government to address administrative demands for Gurage people.
Gurage zone, under the current administrative arrangement, is within the “Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region” (SNNPR ) regional state – a regional state with a distinct administrative arrangement in view of Ethiopia’s existing ethnic-based Federal administrative structure.
SNNPR was organized as a cluster of more than 50 language-speaking groups in Ethiopia. The Gurage zone with its center at Wolkite has been demanding a statehood of its own ( and it has a much higher population compared to some ethnic-based regional states).
Activists familiar with the matter say it has been well over four years since the zone demanded Federal authorities for statehood status.
The SNNPR region is falling apart as a cluster of linguistic groups. About two years ago, Sidama zone attained ethnic Sidama statehood after the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) organized a referendum following a violent protest in the region that claimed hundreds of innocent lives (mostly other ethnic groups).
There are views that seem to relate the success of statehood demand on the part of Sidama to the support from radical ethnic Oromo nationalist groups, who are believed to be exercising strong political control over Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government next to the U.S. government.
Recently, a group of zones within the SSNPR were given statehood status.
Although the demand for Gurage statehood was older than those who already attained ethnic-based federal statehood status, the recent strike in Guraghe seems to have been triggered by the latest developments regarding statehood in the region.
Tesfa Nedam is known on social media for advocating for Guraghe causes. He wrote on social media that authorities in the Guraghe zone called residents for a meeting but it did not happen as residents seem to be not interested in it.
Mrs. Zayda Gizaw is the founder and chairwoman of the Gurage traditional council. She says the Gurage zone was the first zone in the region to demand statehood even during the Tigray People’s Liberation Front-dominated Federal Government.
“People are disenchanted and have had enough of political intrigues [against Gurage people],” she said.
The protest against cluster-based administration has cultural and legal grounds, for those who are supporting the movement for statehood.
Those who champion the cause believe that the cluster arrangement has sabotaged the cultural development and language preservation of the Garage people. They believe that the language is on the verge of extinction, and that statehood status could reverse the course.
From a legal point of view, people like Zayda Gizaw argue that the cluster administration is against the constitutional provision.
Those grievances are the cause for the ongoing strike in the Gurage zone.
The Federal government is yet to respond to it.
Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that the Oromia regional state and Addis Ababa City administration are undertaking “border demarcation.”
To share information or for submission, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Telegram Channel : t.me/borkena
Join the conversation. Follow us on twitter @zborkenato get the latest Ethiopian News updates regularly. Like borkena on Facebook as well. To share information or for submission, send e-mail to email@example.com