December 18, 2017 - Ethiopia's federal government announced decisions to deploy federal security forces at universities across the country, according to Samuel Kifle (PhD), state minister of education. As universities throughout Ethiopia are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, it is possible that the federal government deploy its forces to ensure security at these institutions, reports the reporter.
But, some fear that the presence of federal forces at university premises might frustrate students and distract them.
Samuel, who briefed the media in his office located on Niger Street, indicated that the situation at institutions of higher learning has created a security threat to students, and controlling it has become beyond the capacity of campus security forces. He also expressed condolences to the families and friends of victims of violence and the wider academic community.
Apart from the deployment of security forces at universities, federal government officials have also been sent to 20 universities to discuss with members of the university community, especially students. The state minister said that there would be discussions in the coming days.
The discussion agenda will be security issues that harm the students, inter-student relations and resolving differences through dialogue, according to the state minister.
The objectives of the discussions will be getting the students out of the dark as regards the conflicts, ensure the continuation of the halted teaching and learning process and setting mechanisms by which the missed times will be compensated though tutorials, he added.
Although Samuel refrained from mentioning the specific universities where the four students he said were killed, the head of the Amhara Regional State’s Communications Office, Nigusu Tilahun, on his Facebook account, last week confirmed the death of an Amhara student at Adigrat University.
Two students were killed at Wollega University while other stories are circulated about the death of a student at Debre Tabor University.
The victims were attacked, according to the minister, in early evening and late-night while students were either going to prayers or walking to their dormitories from studying late in libraries.
Social media activists and other commentators claim that the conflicts at universities have ethnic roots while Samuel dismisses all, saying that the root cause of all the conflicts is a hidden agenda by forces intent at destabilizing the country and create hurdles to the path of progressive renaissance that the country is pursuing.
“The issue is political,” he asserted.