Demands for Statehood Overwhelm PM Discussion with SNNPR Delegates

By Staff Reporter

SNNPR-talkJanuary 23, 2020 ( -- Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held discussions with community representatives drawn from various zones of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) in his Office today.

Demands for statehood have overwhelmed the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s meeting with over 2000 delegates drawn from all districts of the South Nations, Nationalities Peoples State of Ethiopia.

The premier was hoping he would clam down the questions for statehood and zone-hoods currently being raised by more than 20 ethnic groups in the regional state and address unfolding conflicts arising from ownership rights in different parts of the region through participatory discussion.

The delegates raised social, economic and administrative challenges they underwent for more than a quarter of a century under the leadership of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which put 56 Nations, Nationalities Peoples under one regional governing body.

An overwhelming victory in a referendum for statehood for the Sidama region and similar petitions from a number of other ethnic groups suggest that there is a demand for a greater devolution of power within the Southern Ethiopia region.

Despite this pressure for more ethnic-federalism, the governing party is shifting its ruling style away from regions and toward a single, unitary party to called the Prosperity Party (PP).

“Bad governance and injustice were left unsettled due to centralized governing system concentrated in Hawassa, the regional capital, which is far away from the majority of the districts in the region, the delegates have said during the discussion in Addis Ababa.

 “We are asking for statehood not because others did so but as a way out to address our administrative, social, and economic challenges. We are asking for justice, the delegates insisted.

They said even though the region is endowed with various resources, a significant number of zones in the state lacks hospitals, market places, roads and other infrastructure facilities aggravating the already poor livelihoods of the people.

The Ethiopian constitution is unequivocal in granting ethnic groups the right to self-administration up to cessation. It also allows for the breakaway of states if such demand arises by a certain ethnic group.

Opposing the demands for statehood and zone-hoods, some of the delegates insisted on living in unison based on shared psychological makeup, livelihoods and economic interdependence among the peoples of the state.

The premier said it will be unrealistic to upgrade a zone to state-level or a district to zone even though it is the constitutional rights of those people to demand.

He appreciated the long-time coexistence of the people in the region and urged the delegates and the people of the region to be part of the solutions to address the challenges the nation has faced within relations to autonomy.

According to the premier, the government has already allocated 48 billion birr to launch and finalize infrastructure development projects in the region with a special focus on roads, hospitals, and the provision of clean water services.

The premier also announced the establishment of a special committee in charge of responding to the public demands through holding series public discussions in the region.

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