by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (January 7, 2019)
A ‘peace week’ has been declared in the troubled west Guji zone in southern Ethiopia in a bid to bring reconciliation and normalcy in a region beset by deadly violence in recent months.
Over a dozen people were killed in the last two weeks while the violence has so far left at least 7,000 people displaced.
The conflict is mainly between the Guji and Gedeo communities, but the recent movement of soldiers of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) into the region had added fuel to the fire. They are being accused of killing, looting and setting harvest on fire in Amaro Kele. A botched cash-in-transit heist was also blamed on OLF. The gunmen killed the driver of the truck and two soldiers escorting the cash.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent a stern warning over the weekend to groups trying to destabilize the country. He said all groups must lay down their arms and come to the negotiating table. Dr. Ahmed said his government, which is being pushed over the edge, has been patiently trying to resolve conflict through dialogue. “Our patience has been tested,” he said.
The federal government said it is working with the Oromo regional administration to end the violence, bring perpetrators to justice and return the displaced back to their homes.
The Aba Gedas, the traditional leaders in west Guji, declared a peace week and are holding a week long peace conference in Adola town.