Days after Ethiopia’s Defense Minister, Abraham Belay, disclosed new government policy on Welkait as a best wish message seizing the occasion of Ashenda holiday in Tigray, authorities in Wolkait-Setie Humera zone are speaking out.
Ashete Demelew, head of Wolkait and Setit Humera zone administration in North Gondar said the statement from the Defense Minister, who used to be a member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), is “irresponsible,” “partial,” and one that drifted from the law.
Ethio-News, a local news source, quoted him as saying that the Defense Minister’s statement has rejected the demands of Wolkait people.
“People in Wolkait Tegede did not cause displacement. It is the TPLF group that carried out the extensive massacre in the region for over thirty years,” Ashete is quoted as saying.
To support his claims of massacre, he made a reference to mass graves discovered in the region.
” It should be known that there will not be disarming and no administrative structure changes in Wolkait,” he said.
The zonal authority is also rejecting the plan for a referendum – a reflection of people’s sentiment. He argued that the TPLF took Wolkait by force, not by referendum.
People in the Wolkait zone are reportedly outraged by the Defense Minister’s Statement. Two days ago, Colonel Demeke Zewdu, a prominent figure, told the news source that people in Wolkait are saddened and outraged by Belay Abraha’s statement.
On Tuesday, Dr Abraham Belay said that the Ethiopian government will hand over “Western and Southern Tigray” – a reference to Wolkait and Raya areas that are currently under Amhara region administration – to the Tigray regional state and that the Status quo ante before the war will be restored.
He also said that People in Tigray will elect a new administration for Wolkait ( Western Tigray – as he calls it) and displaced people from the area will be returned.
The Defense Minister cited the Pretoria Peace Agreement of November 2022 –which ended the two-year war between the Abiy Ahmed government and TPLF – as a basis on which Wolkait will be Tigray.
Defending the ethnic identity of people in Wolkait, the Zone administration head, Ashete Demelew, said ” people in Wolkait and Setit Humera did not say that they want to become Amhara. It is saying I am Amhara.
The Ethiopian government has not released an official statement regarding the fate of Wolkait.
The Amhara region has become a war zone for several months now after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government made a decision to disarm Fano members. Extensive rights abuse,including attacking civilians with drones, have been reported by human rights organizations.
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