Residents of Wolayita Sodo town and its surroundings staged a demonstration on Friday May 17, 2019 demanding regional statehood of the zonal administration, economic benefits as well as respect for rights of Wolayitas all over the country.
The demonstration was said to have been organized by Wolayita Scholars Association, the Elderly Association as well as the Veterans Association covering a distance of one and half kilometers, ending in Wolayita Sodo Stadium.
Slogans of the demonstration called for a quickened implementation of regional statehood for Wolayita, which the zonal council approved unanimously and requested the regional administration for its implementation. Wolayita is one of the half a dozen zonal administrations that requested regional statehood from within the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State.
The demonstration also propagated messages calling for the language of Wolayita to be used at the federal level, for the construction of airports and industrial parks in the to be Wolayita region, justice for Wolayitas who faced displacement and killings in different parts of the country and equal opportunity within the ongoing reform in the country.
Unlike the last demonstration in Wolayita Sodo town which turned bloody and destructive; this one was peaceful and public institutions and businesses returned to their normal operations in the afternoon.
“As a party standing for the demands of the people of Wolayita, we took part in the demonstration and helped in its peaceful conclusion. We also formulated questions and helped the public propagate it,” said Abebayehu Tora (PhD), the president of the newly formed Wolayita National Movement.
Abebayehu also added that Wolayita is the owner of the change process, not only part of it; and claims that the ongoing reform in the country is excluding the Wolayitas intentionally. He also recognized the question of regional statehood and indicated that it is something they stand for.
At this stage, more than six zonal administrations in the Southern region have requested for independent regional statehood, but it is only the Sidama’s request that has reached the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) accepted by the regional council.