– Political parties based in Oromia reject the proposal – PM reveals severe sacrifices, scarce number of police forces
Political parties urge the government to arm citizens living in conflict-stricken areas to enable them protect their neighborhood from attacks.
In their joint press briefing held yesterday Enat Party, All Ethiopian Unity Party, and the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party, called on the government to arm the public under threat.
“The government should declare a state of emergency in the area and have the defense force take control,” their press release reads, adding, the community under threat should also be allowed to be united in a special form and get provision of arms to protect themselves.
“In situations like this, the federal government can take control of the area from the local government to sustain peace. On the other hand, the government should also call on the public to assist in protecting themselves,” Yaye Asmare, public relations head at Enat Party told The Reporter.
In its press release last March, the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice also echoed same message. It said the government should arm the public to protect themselves in places where there is no enough access to cover by law enforcement forces.
This view is shared by several parties as well.
However, for political parties based in Oromia, this seems dangerous. They said it will do more harm than good. Batte Urgessa, public relation head at Oromia Liberation Front (OLF), claims that arming a specific group of people would create a threat to others with no arms.
“The security threat is for everyone. So if needed, all groups in the area should be armed. Whether it is the Amharas or Oromos, arming only one group in segregation has severe consequences,” Batte said.
Batte fears if the government takes this action, there is no guarantee that they would not rise up against others due to the advantage the arm would give them. Any armed group would be considered a threat to others, Batte added.
Addressing the Parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) told Members of Parliament that law enforcement forces are sacrificing their lives to protect the public.
During the 16th ordinary assembly of the House of Peoples’ Representatives, Abiy took his time justifying how the government was successful in shielding the public from massacres and terrorist attacks.
Angered by the recent repetitive ethnic based massacres that claimed the lives of innocents in the Wollega zone of Oromia Regional State, MPs forwarded several inquiries to the Prime Minister on the inadequacies of police forces to safeguard the public.
In his response, Abiy said that several members of police, soldiers and regional special forces are dying every day in their attempts to protect the community.
“Over 80 police officers and local administrators were killed in Derashe [a Woreda in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region] alone,” the PM said. “Police have died in Gambella, Dembi Dollo, and Gimbi as well.”
Working on meager salaries and executing their duties in places with infrastructures that are non-existent, law enforcement forces are paying several sacrifices, Abiy said.
Abiy further claimed that the number of attacks happening everywhere on innocent individuals is making it hard for the law enforcement forces to contain all of the attacks. “Our forces can’t be everywhere at the same time,” he said.