Addis Abeba – Kiflu Wanna, deputy speaker of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state Council, has yesterday submitted to the House of Federation (HoF) a cluster of ten zones and six woredas in the region requesting to be restructured in two additional regional states out of the existing SNNP region. The respective Councils of zones and Special Woredas approved the request over the weekend of 31 July.
Deputy Speaker Kiflu told the Speaker of the HoF Agegnehu Teshager and attending members of the house, as well as representatives of the zonal and special woredas in question that the SNNP Council was presenting the request to the HoF “based on the constitution” and that the expected result of restructuring the region to create two more regional states out of the ten zones and six special woredas “will strengthen the solidarity and unity of the people.” The submission was done after a calm discussions at the different tiers of the zones and special woredas “which resulted in the decision,” according to information from the HoF.
Missing from the list is the Gurage Zone, unlike earlier reports. The HoF did not yet comment on the pending request from Gurage zone. The decision by the SNNP Council to submit the clustered request to the HoF came two days after the Gurage Zone Council said it has not yet lined up the discussion on issue of restructuring to join the other zones and special Woredas as the Council’s agenda item; Alemyirga Woldie, head of economic sector of the Gurage Zone Council, said that the Gurage zone administration was instead waiting for the response from the House of Federation on its earlier request for a regional state status which was submitted on 26 November 2018.
SNNP Council’s deputy speaker Kiflu Wanna has therefore submitted a total of 16 zones and special woredas request for organizing in two additional regional states. Accordingly, the six zones: Gamo, Gedeo, Gofa, Konso, South Omo, and Wolayta zones, as well as the five Special Woredas: Ale, Amaro, Burji, Basketo, Derashe Special Woredas will form one regional state after the HoF approved the request. Similarly, four zones: Hadiya, Halaba, Kembata Tembaro and Silte zones, and Yem Special Woreda will be organized in one regional state. Kiflu has asked the HoF to respond to the requests “immediately based on the constitution.”
The Speaker of the House of Federation Agegnehu Teshager, who chaired the discussions, recalled that these demands for statehood and self administration predate the 2018 political changes in Ethiopia and “had been the cause of conflicts due to lack of prompt responses; those conflicts caused immense damage to human lives and property destruction. He said they should return immediately. “In order to build an economic and political community and to ensure development based on justice, people’s demands should be answered immediately,” the HoF quoted the speaker as saying.
It was not immediately clear if representatives of the Gurage zone Council were in contact with the House of Federation on the status of the Council’s two years four-years old request. Agegnehu further said that as long as the submitted requests from the 16 zones and special woredas reflect the demands of the people in the respective zones and special woredas in question the HoF will subsequently pass a decision.
It it recalled that in his statement to zonal based media, Alemyirga of the Gurage zone Council asserted that the Gurage people have expressed their request for a separate regional state status which was already approved by the Zonal Council and was still waiting for the decision from the House of Federation.
Alemyirga was referring to the Zonal Council’s unanimous decision during an emergency meeting the Council held on 26 November 2018. “The council has no other option but to implement the people’s request,” Alemyirga said, reminding members of the Council that their accountability is only “to the constitution, to the people and their conscience,” and that members should implement the Council’s decision without anyone’s influence.
Security warnings and bans
On 02 August Alemayehu Baudi, Head of the SNNP regional state peace and security office and coordinator of good governance cluster warned at a security meeting in Wolkite city that the regional government “will not tolerate illegal and irregular activities under the guise of the restructuring request of the Gurage zone,” and that the regional security will be compelled to take strict actions against anyone violating the warnings.
The meeting where Alemayehu spoke took place in the presence of the leadership of members of the Federal Defense Forces and the regional political security leadership.
Similarly, the administration of Bu’i city in Gurage zone has today issued warning prohibiting residents against activities that it classified as “conflict-inciting” and activities that are not included in the “direction set by the government.”
The City Administration further said that a command post task force was established as of today to implement the prohibitions.
It claimed that most of the community has accepted the direction set by the government and is moving, “but there may be some intruders,” that the community should protect itself from, and from the conspiracy of these “destructive elements.”
The City has banned wearing scarves, hats and banners that advocate to reject the Gurage region’s inclusion into the new restructuring. AS