By Biruk Alemu @Birukalemu21
Addis Abeba: In statement issued today, Arshya Ahmed, the Speaker of the Gurage Zone Council, in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state, said that the zonal council has called its members for a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, 17 September.
This is the first meeting by the Council after its emergency meeting held on 11 August during which the zonal Council rejected the government’s proposal to be organized in clusters to pave ways for two more new regional states in SNNP region. The Council rejected the proposal by a majority vote. Out of the total 97 members of the council, 52 members of the council opposed the proposal to form a new region by merging the Gurage zone with four other zones under the southern region and one special district.
The Gurage Zone Council had unanimously voted for the establishment of a separate regional state status during an emergency meeting it held on 26 November 2018, hence rejecting the new proposal that would have seen the zone restructured along with Hadiya, Halaba, Kembata Tmbaro and Silte zones, as well as the Yem Special Woreda to pave ways for a new regional state. Due to the Gurage Zone’s Council decision to vote against the clustering, the remaining four zones: Hadiya, Halaba, Kembata Tembaro and Silte zones, and Yem Special Woreda will be organized in one regional state.
A zonal councilor who spoke with Ethiopia Insider on condition of anonymity speculated that Council members might bring up the cluster issue. Some members believe that tomorrow’s meeting will not include the agenda of the cluster beyond last year’s planning, performance evaluation and budget approval.
But in the statement issued today, the agendas that will be raised in the assembly are detailed and it is said that the 2014 administrative council plan implementation, the review of the 2022 summary report of the zonal court, the 2022 annual plan of the government and the court and the 2022 annual budget of the zone will be passed.
Many stay-at-home protests were staged in the zone against the cluster restructuring, leading subsequently to the arrests of several individuals who supported the protests and the Gurage Zone statehood request
She stated that there is no other specific agenda other the ones mentioned and that the agendas that should be taken up by the assembly are taken up by talking to the relevant parties.
The meeting, according to the speaker of the Council, will be “totally peaceful, lovely, and appropriate for the zone’s society.” The speaker stated that the zone’s community do not endanger the country’s existence and has proved its dedication to the country’s honor and peace. She also urged that the work of development and peacekeeping in the region be continued in accordance with the conference’s directions.
Many stay-at-home protests were staged in the zone against the cluster restructuring, leading subsequently to the arrests of several individuals who supported the protests and the Gurage Zone statehood request. As tensions continue running high in the zone, on August 24, the regional command post issued a statement for the second time, stating that it was strictly forbidden to close commercial shops and businesses in the city without reason. A temporary command post was also established in the zone and had warned that actions would be taken against those who violate this order.
Meanwhile, the federal House of Federation (HoF) is proceeding with the proposed cluster restructure of 16 zones and special woredas into two regional states in SNNP. On 04 August, Kiflu Wanna, deputy speaker of the SNNP regional state Council, submitted the cluster proposal to the HoF requesting to be restructured in the two additional regional states out of the existing SNNP region.
Accordingly, the six zones: Gamo, Gedeo, Gofa, Konso, South Omo, and Wolayta zones, as well as the five Special Woredas: Ale, Amaro, Burji, Basketo, Derashe Special Woredas will form one regional state, whereas four zones: Hadiya, Halaba, Kembata Tembaro and Silte zones, and Yem Special Woreda will be organized in another regional state, without the Gurage Zone.
The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has been informed to prepare to conduct the referendum and notify the House of the results. AS