Updated on August 12, 2023 at 2:25 P.M. Toronto Time
The decision to make the South Ethiopia region and the newly formed “South Ethiopian Nations and Nationalities” to have three capitals is encountering resistance.
Arba Minch, otherwise peaceful tourist destinations in the south with a vibrant business activity including in the travel industry, did have a different vibe in the past three days.
A resident who spoke to VOA Amharic, on condition of anonymity, told VOA Amharic that most businesses were closed the past three days, movements restricted and transportation stopped. Regular movement restricted.
That was a response from residents after the peace and security office of South Ethiopia regional state denied a permit for a peaceful demonstration.
Why are people protesting?
The immediate cause is a government proposal to have three regional capitals for the newly established regional states. The type and number of offices assigned to these capitals is another issue that is causing disenchantment among people in the region.
Gamo people, whose zonal town is Arba Minch, aspire to have their own regional states just like the rest of ethnic based region.
In addition to Arba Minch, there were reported protests in Kucha and Durame in the region, according to the VOA Amharic report.
Residents speak out, although mostly on conditions of anonymity as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government is increasingly becoming dictatorial, that the new arrangement does worsen existing problems rather than solving them.
They also make the point that the practice is undemocratic ; the government is imposing them on the people when people are demonstrating distaste for it.
Pledges that were not honored is another source of grievance for people in the region.
The regional state that is under Restu Yirdaw argues the decision to have three capitals is based on developmental needs to make the growth of the towns equitable.
Residents do not buy it. It is mainly because of political consideration and convenience for the authorities, they argue.
For some the best way to end ethnic based rivalry for resources is to do away with the constitutional arrangement and embark on constitutional amendment or even change.
Arba Minch or Gamo zone is not the only place in Ethiopia where there is a strong anti-government sentiment and protest of administrative arrangement.
Gurage zone has been protesting cluster administrative arrangement and demanding for an ethnic Gurage statehood.
The newly formed East Borena zone in the Oromo region of Ethiopia has also been experiencing recurring anti-government protest over administrative arrangement.
In the Amhara region, there is an armed struggle to the point that the Federal government has to introduce a state of emergency and shut internet communication.
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