26 June 2012 [ESAT]
Head of The Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State, Shiferaw Shigute, is back in Awassa cutting his long planned visit short in North America. His untimely departure is precipitated by the heightened security situation in Sidama Zone of the state. Soon after his arrival Shiferaw held a press conference that was broadcast on the state government’s FM radio.
Shiferaw stated the instigators and perpetrators of the ethnic conflict in the zone are known to the government and declared the government’s intention to prosecute them at the earliest time possible.
He declared the proposal to put the city’s administration under the federal government is still an early stage, and asked for patience from ethnic Sidamas who are campaigning against the move. He disclosed a new move by the state government to hold consultative meetings with local elders and other stake holders. Though he acknowledged the fact that lives are lost in the conflicts, he didn’t take responsibility or offered an apology for the state’s residents. Instead, Shiferaw put the blame on opposition parties operating in the region and what he called ‘some investors’ operating in the region. Many believe the conflict is instigated by ethnic Sidamas within the ruling SEPDF-EPRDF.
According to reports reaching us, Awassa is still tense. The city is still being patrolled by Ethiopian Federal Police forces. There are reports of huge encampment of federal police contingents at the cities exit to Yirgalem city.
ESAT has received complaints from activists involved with the region that the news report ESAT produced doesn’t accurately capture the essence of the conflict. According to these individuals, the fundamental question in Sidama Zone is a question of basic rights. They also expressed their resolute to carry on with their demands till the fundamental rights of ethnic Sidamas are respected.