News analysis: Benishangul Gumuz region defends the presence of special forces from other regions in Metekel Zone, says they are to maintain peace, protect the GERD

Special Forces in Metekel Zone. Photo: Bulan Woreda Communication Bureau

By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne 

Addis Abeba, September 15/2021 – The regional special forces of Gambella, Sidama and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) are also deployed to Bulan woreda of the Metekel Zone in Benishangul Gumuz region, the head of the peace building and security affairs bureau, Abiyot Alboro told the BBC Amharic yesterday. 

Following the news of the deployment of Amhara Special Forces to Bulan woreda, Abiyot said that the Special Forces from the three regions are carrying out a peacekeeping mission under the regional command post. 

“We share long administrative borders with the Amhara region. We collaborate on peace keeping and developmental tasks” Abiyot said, explaining that the Special Forces from any region can operate under a command post. He also noted the area is where the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is located. Underscoring the importance of a collaborative effort, Abiyot said “The area is where the TPLF is crossing over through Sudan to attack civilians and the GERD.”

In a Facebook post on it’s official page, on September 12, the Bulan woreda communication bureau said that the Special forces from the neighboring Amhara regional state “were welcomed” by residents of Bulan town, in Metekel zone. The statement explained that the residents of Bulan woreda expect the “borderless” Amhara Special Forces to exterminate “messengers of the Junta” and “remnants of the T.P.L.F walking around carrying its ideology and school of thoughts.” 

It is to be recalled that earlier in July a communal violence broke out in Bulan woreda killing 14 civilians and injuring more than 17. The zonal command post imposed curfew and restriction of carrying arms in and around the Woreda. The curfew restricts movement from 7 PM to 6 AM and prohibits carrying all types of weapons by anyone other than authorized security personnel.

The ongoing violence in the contested Metekel Zone continues to claim the lives of civilians. Aside from staging multiple reconciliation ceremonies to integrate members of an unnamed “armed group” and resolve the security crisis in the region, the regional government has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the armed group and appointed 25 former members of the unidentified armed group to two regional, three zonal and 16 woreda level leadership positions in July.AS

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