Ethiopia: Dozens killed in Sidama clashes

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At least 25 people have been killed in clashes between security forces and activists in Ethiopia’s southern Sidama region.

Activists from the Sidama ethnic group vowed to declare their own federal state on Thursday, unless the government confirmed plans to hold a referendum on creating a new state for the country’s fifth-largest ethnic group. The government struck a deal earlier this month to delay the referendum by five months, potentially avoiding a much larger conflict, but some members of the Sidama group insisted the deal was too much of a compromise.

Clashes in southern Ethiopia

Sidama activists submitted a request for a referendum on having their own officially recognised region in July 2018. Ethiopia’s constitution states the government must hold a referendum within a year of such requests being made from any ethnic group and the deadline was July 18, Thursday last week.

Sidama activists threatened to declare their own federal state on Thursday unless the government held a referendum on the issue but a deal was struck ahead of the deadline, giving the government a further five months to organise a vote.

This wasn’t enough to please all members of the Sidama ethnic group, though. Protests were held on Thursday and clashes with security officials has killed at least 25 people, according to hospital officials in the region.

There are also witness reports of violence between different ethnic groups in the region but details are yet to be confirmed. Some activists wanted the total death toll is much higher than the figures currently circulating with as many as 60 people having been killed in clashes surrounding the protests.

Featured image: Von TUBS – Eigenes WerkDiese W3C-unbestimmte Vektorgrafik wurde mit Adobe Illustrator erstellt.Diese Datei wurde mit Commonist hochgeladen.Diese Datei enthält Elemente, die von folgender Datei entnommen oder adaptiert wurden:  Ethiopia location map.svg (von NordNordWest)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17593423

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.