Command Post to run the Gurage zone as residents push for ethnic based statehood – a dominant attribute of Ethiopia’s Federal system
The Ethiopian government seems to have decided to employ a heavy-handed policy to the statehood demands of Ethiopians in the Gurage zone.
The South region ( and this is the only region in Ethiopia that is not strictly organized based on and named after ethnicity ) Peace and Security Office announced that it has decided to bring the Guraghe zone of the region under what looks like a state of emergency arrangement.
It will be under a “Command Post” – a form of practice in Ethiopia whereby security forces (including Defense in most cases) administration. It is unspecified how long the region is going to be under the command post arrangement.
The region made claims that the security situation in the Guragh zone could no longer be handled with regular law enforcement practice due to security problems in connection with the demand for statehood.
The Federal Police and special forces in the region will be in charge of the security situation, and that body is formed to coordinate the work in the zone, according to a statement from the regional authorities.
Alemayehu Bawudi, head of the region’s peace and security office, on Thursday said the two bodies will coordinate with other security forces to handle what he called organized security problems in the Gurage zone.
He added that a regional-level body is formed to coordinate all the work. Furthermore, he has announced that the “Command Post” will make arrests against what he described as forces who were organized and involved in violence.
The region has also announced that over 70 people were arrested.
There has been a stay-at-home protest and strike in the region as people in the Gurage zone pursue demands for ethnic-based statehood.
The Federal government set precedents for ethnic groups in what is now the South Nations and Nationalities People region by allowing groups who demanded ethnic-based statehood.
In November 2019, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia organized a referendum for the Sidama zone of the region as ethnic Sidama pushed for ethnic Sidama State. The process leading to the referendum was a bloody one as the protestors in the region attacked non-ethnic Sidama.
The Ethiopian government’s heavy-handed policy towards the Gurage zone’s demand for statehood is drawing criticism. For one thing, the government had been responding positively to demands for statehood in the same region. For another thing, there is a pressing security condition in the Oromo region of Ethiopia – particularly in the Wollega – where civilians are being massacred by radical ethnic Oromo nationalist groups on a daily basis.
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