By Biruk Alemu @Birukalemu21
Addis Ababa: In a statement released today, Arshya Ahmed, Chairman of the Gurage Zonal Council in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) Regional State, said the zonal council convened its members to a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, September 17.
This is the Council’s first meeting after its August 11 emergency meeting in which the Zonal Council rejected the government’s proposal to be organized into clusters to pave the way for two more new regional states in the SNNP region. The Council rejected the proposal by majority. Out of a total of 97 council members, 52 council members opposed the proposal to form a new region by merging the Gurage area with four other areas under the southern region and a special district.
The Gurage Zonal Council had voted unanimously for the creation of a separate regional statehood at an emergency meeting it held on November 26, 2018, thus rejecting the new proposal which would have saw the area restructured with the areas of Hadiya, Halaba, Kembata Tmbaro and Silte. , as well as the Yem Special Woreda to pave the way for a new regional state. Due to Gurage Zonal Council’s decision to vote against consolidation, the remaining four zones: Hadiya, Halaba, Kembata Tembaro and Silte zones, and Yem Special Woreda will be organized into a single regional state.
A zonal councilor who spoke to Ethiopia Insider on condition of anonymity speculated that council members might raise the issue of the cluster. Some members believe that tomorrow’s meeting will not include the cluster agenda beyond planning, performance review and last year’s budget approval.
But in today’s press release, the agendas that will be raised in the assembly are detailed and it is said that the implementation of the 2014 administrative council plan, the examination of the 2022 summary report of the zone court, the 2022 annual plan of the government and the court and the 2022 annual budget of the area will be voted.
Many housebreaking protests were held in the area against the restructuring of the cluster, which subsequently led to the arrest of several people who supported the protests and the demand for statehood in the Gurage area.
She said that there are no specific agendas other than those mentioned and that agendas that should be taken care of by the assembly are addressed by discussing with the parties concerned.
The meeting, according to the chairman of the council, will be “completely peaceful, beautiful and appropriate for the society of the area”. The speaker said that the community in the area does not endanger the existence of the country and has proven its dedication to the honor and peace of the country. She also urged that development and peacekeeping work in the region continue in accordance with the guidelines of the conference.
Many housebreaking protests were held in the area against the restructuring of the cluster, subsequently resulting in the arrest of several people who supported the protests and Gurage Zone’s demand for statehood. As tensions continue to rise in the area, on August 24, the regional command post issued a statement for the second time stating that it was strictly forbidden to close shops and businesses in the city without reason. A temporary command post was also established in the area and warned that action would be taken against those who violated this order.
Meanwhile, the Federal House of Federation (HoF) is proceeding with the proposed cluster restructuring of 16 special areas and woredas into two SNNP regional states. On August 04, Kiflu Wanna, Deputy Chairman of the SNNP Regional State Council, submitted the cluster proposal to the HoF requesting to be restructured into the two additional regional states outside the existing SNNP region.
Thus, the six zones: Gamo, Gedeo, Gofa, Konso, South Omo and Wolayta, as well as the five special Woredas: Ale, Amaro, Burji, Basketo, Derashe Special Woredas will form a regional state, while four zones: The Hadiya zones , Halaba, Kembata Tembaro and Silte, and Yem Special Woreda will be held in another regional state, without the Gurage area.
The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has been informed to prepare to hold the referendum and inform the House of the results. AS