What was once South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) — initially the only multiethnic regional state in light of Ethiopia’s ethnic based Federalism — seems to be ending a politically induced fragmentation.
This week the formation of the South Ethiopia region as the 12th regional state in Ethiopia with its capital in Arba Minch, which used to be the seat of Gamo Zone administration, and the Central Ethiopia region, the 13th regional state with its capital in Wolkite, was announced. The two regions were established in Arba Minch and Wolkite. Working language in both regions is to be Amharic- Ethiopia’s official language.
With that, what remained of the SNNPR after the Sidama zone of the region broke away to form an ethnic Sidama State, in 2019, was dissolved.
Several district level administrations are restructured as zone level administrations in the new South Ethiopia region. Amaro, Basketo, Burji, Amaro, Derashe and Ale are to be organized as zone level administrations. On the other hand, South Omo Zone which is bigger in land mass is to be sliced into two administrative zones.
Region 13 contains two zones and three districts – still a cluster form of administrations – a movement by ethnic Gurage has been opposing vehemently for over a year now. In fact, the new arrangement has fragmented Gurage further as it has formed a new “East Gurage zone.” Wazema radio report, on Saturday, said that the decision got a majority vote in the new Central Ethiopia region council.
In terms of appointment, Tilahun Kebede is named as president of South Regional state whose seat will be in Wolaita Soda while Endashaw Tassew, who has served as Federal Police Commissioner General, is named as head of the new central Ethiopia region. Tilahun Kebede was the only candidate for the position, according to sources.
The process manifested rather a simmering grievances from areas that are not content with the new administrative arrangements. In the Gamo zone, for example, there have been reports of discontent but residents were not allowed to take to the streets. Guraghe, as indicated above, has been protesting for over a year now demanding for an ethnic Gurage regional state.
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