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Officials suspended over recent violence in South

Officials suspended over recent violence in South

Sample survey concludes majority want Southern region to continue as one

After deadly clashes were reported between security forces and the youth mainly in the Sidama Zone of the Southern Regional State, following what appears to be a targeted attack on different ethnic groups residing in the area and huge destruction to property, the regional ruling party— Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (SEPDM)—has suspended a number of officials from both the party and their current positions, The Reporter has learnt.

This included zonal administrators in Sidama, Hadiya as well as Hawassa city. This decision comes after days of bloody violence that rocked the southern region over the question of an autonomous regional state of Sidama. The exact number of people who have lost their lives are yet be confirmed, nevertheless, according to a number of reports, more than two dozens of people have been killed in the conflict. In addition, property of businesses, religious institutions as well as government offices were destroyed, vandalized, robbed and set on fire.

Days after the violence, the Federal government upon the demand of the regional state has decided to put the security of the region under the direct control of its security apparatus. The Command post has since taken over the matter.

With the coming into power of PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD), many Ethiopian activists are now using their greater freedoms accorded to them by the new administration to demand more rights, sometimes for their own ethnic groups. At least, eight other groups besides the Sidama also want their own regions in the Southern Region. The tension sometimes sparks violence.

Following the violence, the ruling party of region has held a meeting in Hawassa and has passed a number of decisions.

In this regard, the party has suspended high officials from Sidama and Hadiya Zones and the City Administration of Hawassa. The party accuses the officials of the Sidama Zone of playing a role in the violence that especially occurred outside of Hawassa.  The party has also suspended the officials from any of their official roles. In the same token, officials from Hadiya zone were also suspended for endangering the publics’ safety.

Furthermore, the executive committee of the regional party has ordered all public mobilization activities in Welayta as well as other zones to stop.

In related news, as per a sample survey sponsored by the government, the majority of people living in Southern region want the region to stay as it is. The study which was disclosed this week includes 17,000 people in its sample in all areas of the Southern Region except Hawassa and Sidama.

During the study, three options were presented with the majority choosing to see the region with its current structure.

It was also indicated that those included in the survey also choose as a second option to see the region restructured into two up to five regions.