When Ato Tadesse Tesemma (name changed for safety reasons) went to Hararghe three decades ago, he fell in love with the sheer vivacity of the place. People were friendly, and he was so enticed with the feeling of being welcome that he permanently moved there and started a family. Sadly, at this moment, the lively and easy-going atmosphere looks like a thing to reminisce about.
The culprit is an all-too common story in most of Ethiopia: ethnic clashes. Although Eastern Ethiopia was once lauded for its tolerance and love, it seems these days that area has fallen prey to squabble over land between the two majority residents of the area, the Somali and the Oromo. Reports have shown that this isn’t a phenomenon that sprung up recently, but has been brewing over the past few months.
Leaders of several regional parties and conventions claim that they have been sending a warning report, including a letter to OPDO and the federal government to heed the situation, and have even been involved in mediation trials in several occurrences, but have failed to get any official response.
“It was only a matter of time before things got out of hand” said Ato Tadesse “peace was deteriorating slowly but surely. One day, we’re getting ready to celebrate the New Year, the next we hear that an official has been shot dead”.
Reports have shown that the conflict has grown to five zones around the region, with at least 32 civilians and two government official’s dead and around 600 people displaced and moved to nearby metropolis, Harar.
Dr. Negeri Lencho, Communications minister, has given a statement that the Federal Police have been deployed to stabilize the situation and keep human lives and property from further destruction, and that the 600 people have safely been returned to their original residence. He has also said that the conflict has been mostly around Aweday and Jigjiga area, but efforts are being made to stop any further damage.
Somali regional communications officer Idris Ismail who has made a statement claims that the Oromo Liberation Front and notorious Oromo nationalist Jawar Mohammed have setup an army to attack Somali frontiers and this was a deliberate attack to disrupt peace.
However, other reports have said that the attack comes from militia from Ethiopian Somalia who are working in cohort with Somali Special (Liyu) police and military persons from republic of Somalia who have been targeting unarmed farmers and residents. A Somali republic ID holder by the name of Abdi Kello has also been identified as taking part in the conflict, although it is not clear in what capacity.
While questioned on the rumors that the federal government deployed arms to aid the aggressors, Oromia regional communications officer Ato Addisu Araga, says that as a government that will be the least likely and hard to accept explanation and further elaborated that foreign forces are also in league in the matter.
Ethiopian civilians have raised their concerns that domestic unrest has raised old ambitions from neighboring Somalia to continue the dreams of Said Barre, to annex parts of what is now considered Ethiopian territory into a greater Somalia.