27 June 2012 [ESAT]
Reports coming to our news desk suggest the political turmoil in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples states if far from over. Just yesterday residents of Awassa town who were called for a meeting with the regional state’s president had to walk out on him after he bluntly declared that Sidamas’ struggle for statehood is a wishful thinking.
Other ethnicities living in Awassa say ethnic Sidamas have never felt antagonistic towards them. Instead they accuse the regional state government for the political controversy and ethnic tension pervading in the zone and Awassa city. They accuse of the regional government of litany of contradicting laws and what the residents termed unhelpful political propaganda.
Passions are running high. One respected senior citizen of ethnic Sidama origin declared on the meeting that the demand for statehood is the most important agenda for Sidamas and the struggle will continue till that last man standing. One activist who was on the meeting told our reporter that the state government is trying to make the conflict between Sidamas and other ethnic groups living in the Zone. The issue here is a popular demand by ethnic Sidamas to have a state of their own as is the case with other ethnicities of comparable demography and Awassa should remain the capital city of Sidamas only.
Residents of the city who attended the meeting said Shiferaw was actively speaking to make the issue an ethnic conflict between Sidamas and others. He faced a loud grumbling and vehement pushback from the attendants who say the issue is completely different to what he is saying.
Loosely grouped young ethnic Sidamas are distributing names of officials that they accuse are tipping activists name to the notorious Ethiopian Federal Police for torture and extra judicial incarceration. One 14 page document our reporter managed to get his hand on declares the establishment of a clandestine group led by local University Students to highlight the demands of ethnic Sidamas.
In related news, the number of incarcerated individuals in Chuko City of Sidama Zone has reached 15. The Ethiopian Federal Police that has camped in the city are doing a frequent patrol and they disallow gatherings more than three people.
Locals of Chuko are resorting to their tradition called “Afini”. They are marching to the surrounding rural communities to consult with their clan leaders on the course of action they could take heretofore.
Keen observers of Ethiopian politics express their deep seated anxiety about the consequences of ethnic politics in the country.