Ethiopia: What Went Wrong in Somali State? Scholars Reflect

Camels wait for treatment from the Liyu police veterinarian teams outside Bulali town in Ethiopia’s Somali region (file photo).

The explosion of weapons and mass destruction in the Somali State of Ethiopia cannot be associated with ethnic and religious matters, rather is a veiled mission for posing threats to national peace and security, and causing havoc across different parts of the country, according to political experts.

In this regard, Inter-religious Council of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council strongly condemned and briefed that it is not related to the faith and beliefs of Islamic religion. Rather, it indicates ethnic cleansing that has been exercised by the agents of provocateurs in this region.

Approached by The Ethiopian Herald yesterday, a political expert Dr. Costantinos Berhetesfa explained the historical background about the Somali State. The Somali regional state, during Emperor Haile Selassie and the Derg regimes, was administered by the Ministry of Defense and associated organizations because of the conflict with the main Somalia, he highlighted.

As to Dr. Costantinos, the Somali region became regional state within Ethiopia, during the formation of the new constitution, when there were several groups evoking self-determination, later enshrined under Article 39, to be an independent state.

Since administered as an independent state under the federal government, the Somali state suited for peaceful environment for living for a long period of time, through building universities and attracting investments.

Recently approached by Ethiopian Television, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Addis Ababa University, Abdiwasa Abdilahi (PhD) also says it is not enough to understand the problems of the Somali region depending on the recent conflict; rather it is important to look in to its historical background.

According to Dr. Abdiwassa, the personality of Abdi Illey, observing his day to day activities, was very strange to the principles of leadership over the last decade. If it is stated by respecting human and women rights, it is true to say there was no peace in the region during Abdi's governance.

"Thousands of people were killed, thousands of women were raped, and thousands of people are set off to leave their homes. In these years, the people have chosen silence rather than confronting against him," Dr. Abdiwassa condemned.

Dr. Constantinos also cond- emned the conflict that threatened the lives of many people, resulting death, and destroying churches and other public institutions. But, the unlawful actions indicate the combination of religious hatred, and opposing the governance of the regional state, he adds.

"Most of the conflicts in the region were related to border demarcation between the Somali and Oromia states, that caused for displacement of over millions of Oromo peoples from Somali."

"It is really gloomy in Ethiopian history, especially at a time that Dr. Abiy came to front talking about love, unity and peace," Dr. Costantinos commented.

"The government has to come up with the details how the state fell in to such horrific situations, and why these things are happening at this time while the new Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed preaching the peace and reconciliation lessons."

"The government should also find out what really happened in this region, and its root causes as well as what was the role of the federal government in addressing such kind of issues," Dr. Costantinos states.

Of course, human rights were abused, constitutional rights were violated in the region in those days. However, the regional states have constitutional autonomy to determine what to do, the federal government was a bit delayed in intervening and ensuring peace and security, he adds.

Currently, the security forces are now in the region to help both the people and government of regional state to ensure peace and order in the region, Dr. Costantinos noted.

Cognizant of the fact that there have been confusions in the political, social and economic spectrum, Dr. Abiy had made his first trip to the Somali region after taking office as a prime minister to be able to quell the kind of animosity that have been developed between the regional and the surrounding states, Dr. Konstantinos recalls.

Although the government intervenes and tries to bring peace and stability in the region, the issue is more than that if they burnt churches and kill innocent civilians.

In this regard, Abdiwasa stressed that the federal government needs to set some requirements for state leadership, particularly for such imperiled region.

According to him, there may be external agents who involved in this turmoil, because the actions like burning churches reflected the support of some elements like al-Shabaab, and al-Qaida.

Straightforwardly, it was not the entire society that goes out to destroying institutions, robbing banks, and burning religious institutions.

Though it requires deep inspection to identify the reasons why and how the things have been occurred, the problem perhaps related to economic issues, as the region was severely hit by drought and poverty for the last few years.

Regarding good governance in the Somali region, Dr. Abdiwassa says the oppression of Abdi Illey is not new for the people of Somali for the last 10 years; there was no good governance, rather the state was invaded by rebel groups.

According to Dr. Abdiwassa, President Abdi Illey has ever boasted his power more than the kind of Monarchs, as he can do whatever he wants to do.

"If someone oppose him, he will send them to jail or kill, or rape women, which can be expressed as shameful negligence."

Dr. Abdiwassa also questioned that who allowed him to do such abnormal things, in a country where there is strong federal government, strong security, and strong military. It is not left to him alone to blame, there must be other entity that provokes him to do so.

In fact, many scholars have been witnessing that Abdi was successful in maintaining peace and stability in the region, but the truth is he was retaliating his internal people and violating human rights, Dr. Abdiwassa recalls.

As to him, the recent conflict cannot be related with ethnicity and religious issue. In history, Somali people have never been burnt churches. It rather is a deliberate action taken by Abdi himself.

"It is a lesson for the federal and other state governments to ensure both state and human security. The Military alone will not bring lasting peace in the region, so that all stakeholders need to collaborate and work together to figure out anti-peaceful elements," Dr. Andiwassa suggested.

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