HAWASSA, Ethiopia (Reuters) – Activists in Ethiopia were set to declare a new region for their Sidama ethnic group on Thursday in defiance of the central government, with some residents of the southern city of Hawassa worried that it could lead to violence.
The declaration will be a litmus test of whether Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal government can maintain its commitment to peaceful political reforms in the face of increasing demands from competing ethno-nationalist groups.
Berets - Police - Force - Guns - Forces
“Red berets, regional special police force are patrolling with grim faces and guns pointed. Special forces can be seen in all corners and small streets,” one resident in Hawassa told Reuters.
Some of his friends were so concerned that violence would erupt on Thursday that they sent their wives and children to the national capital Addis Ababa, he added.
System - Africa - Nation - Groups - Degree
The federal system in Africa’s second most populous nation is designed to allow larger ethnic groups a degree of autonomy.
But smaller groups such as the Sidama, who make up about 5% of Ethiopia’s 105 million people, say they have been sidelined. In addition to the Sidama, at least eight more ethnic groups are campaigning for their own regions.
Hawassa - City - Capital - Nations - Region
Hawassa city is the capital of the multi-ethnic southern nations region, but some Sidama – who make up the largest group within the region – claim it as the capital of their own new region.
Fasika Qedele, another Hawassa resident, said it was time for the Sidama people to achieve self-rule.
Sidama - People - Repression - Years - Years
“The Sidama people have lived under repression for years and years. Now we are super excited as we are on the eve of declaration of our self administration,” he said, adding the people had the capacity and the...
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