Ethiopia says army to take over security in troubled south


Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopia announced Monday that soldiers and federal police will take over security in a restive southern region following days of violence that has left at least 18 people dead.

“The regular security structure has been unable to ensure rule of law and has been stymied by various agendas,” said a statement read on regional state television late Monday.

“From today onward the southern region will be under a federal security forces-led command post.”

The unrest stems from efforts by the Sidama ethnic group, the largest in the southern region, to establish a new semi-autonomous state – a project that has put them on a collision course with the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Protests erupted last week as Sidama activists sought to declare their own territory separate from the diverse Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region.

Ethiopia is already partitioned into nine semi-autonomous regions. The constitution requires the government to organise a referendum for any ethnic group that wants to form a new entity within a year of them requesting it.

Sidama leaders submitted their request last July and were preparing to unilaterally declare their new state last week but instead accepted a government request to delay the move.

Clahses broke out when it became clear that a declaration was not imminent, with violence carrying through the weekend into Monday.

In its statement, the government said security had deteriorated and the southern region was plagued by “strife, destruction, displacement and robberies”.

“Armed and illegal groups have been wreaking havoc in the region and the army has been trying to restore the rule of law,” it said.

It said the federal takeover came at the request of regional officials. Details of a new central command post be made known in coming days, it added.

– Rising death toll –

Hospital officials in Hawassa, the regional capital, said last Friday that four people were killed in protests there.

Security forces swiftly quelled the unrest but violence in towns outside Hawassa spread.

A hospital official in Woreta Rassa, located about 30 kilometres (18 miles) outside Hawassa, said Monday that 12 people had died after being shot by soldiers late last week.

“Twelve people from the community were killed and 19 were injured,” said the official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to reveal casualty totals.

“They were fighting the military.”

In Yirgalem, around 40 kilometres south of Hawassa, two people died out of 10 who were admitted to the local hospital, said Gudura Funte, the hospital’s head.

“One patient was shot at 4:00 am today. He was admitted in the morning and then he died. The rest came on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Funte said.

He added that the security situation had largely stabilised by Monday afternoon.

The numbers provided Monday by hospital officials are likely incomplete, as violence was also reported in other areas.

Some Sidama activists have put the death toll as high as 60 but it has not been possible to verify their reports.

Derese Desalegn, the head of the Sidama health department, said he planned to dispatch officials to affected areas on Tuesday to begin gathering comprehensive casualty figures.

At least 150 people had been arrested in connection with the violence as of Friday, Hawassa Mayor Sukare Shuda told regional state media.


  1. Instead of sending armed Oromo tugs, removal of ethnic flags and article 39 will save Ethiopia. No more no less.

  2. The trouble that erupted in sidama was in the making for a long time , the government ignored all the warning signs and allowed the situation to fall out of hand.
    Jawaar mohamaad, who runs the olf wing of Abiys government, in particular should take responsibilty for the blood shed, looting and burning of churches, mosques, property and the ethnic cleansing of ethiopians who are not ethnically sidama. A few months ago Jawaar mohammad urged the sidama ‘ejeto’ that they should declare sidama self rule by force , if necessary. The lawlessness that follows is a result of such agitations.
    The command post in place now in sidama, will only add a different dimension to the problem. The sidama should be given self administration one way or the other, simply because the ‘constitution’ allows them to have it including secesstion.
    In the immediate future , there are upto 9 other ethnic groups who have demanded and waiting to be given self rule in the south of the country for eg the wolayta, kembata, hadiya , konso etc . Where will this end, is anybody’s guess. Any ethnic group whether it is 100 or 100,000 or 1 million in number has a right to ask for self rule, because the constitution allows it.
    what about those other ethnic groups in amhara, oromo, afar, benishingul, ogaden, Harrari, tigreregions etc . the list is endless and we could end up with over 100 ethnic groups with self rule in the country. whether or not all these groups will seek self rule will depend on a referundum to be held in ethnic killil.
    One has to imagine what this means for the country in the long term before we go down the road of granting ethnic based self rule in the whole country.
    However you cannot stop the country going down this road while we continue to use the constitution which is the source of all this fragmentation.

    • Yebbo,
      In Oromia all ethnic groups, except the Oromos, are settlers from other regions and thus do not qualify to declare self-rule on somebody else’s land, unless they have the power to wipe Oromos off the face of the land as the white man did to indigenous Americans.
      This does not mean that people in other regions should not be given self rule if their claim is supported by history and have the power. The entire Wallo Oromo for example, were forcefully included in Amhara and Tigray region against their will, thanks to TPLF. That is why they are demanding unification with their southern brothers and greater trouble will erupt if their voice is not heard.

  3. @ Sodo
    Removal of Article 39 exacerbates the problem; it can not be a solution. Rather removal of chauvinists from the face of the world can be better solution. Chauvinists do not believe in equality of nations and self rule. They are guided still by the old motto “I KNOW FOR YOU!”.

  4. Dr. Abiy betrayed the Oromos by disappointing their best friends in that country. He will face his downfall from inside if he does not listen to the great Sidama people and call the referendum immediately.

    Victory our beloved Sidama people!

  5. ” army to take over security in troubled areas” is a joke – Abiy Ahmed is kidding Ethiopians. If he had been genuine enough he would have done at least the following.
    1) Arrest Jawar Mohammed who is openly behind the instability in Sidamo. He is the cause for the death of many inhabitants
    2) Arrest those Jawar emboldened thugs that massacred innocent Wolaytas in the beginning of the terror attack gruesomely and hand them the maximum punishment.

    • Arresting Jawar means arresting all 60 million Oromos which means no space or army to handle.

      I would put trouble making G7 inspired fascist illegal settlers like Debteraw and ungrateful Eskinder naga behind the bar instead.

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