By Natnael Fite @NatieFit
Addis Ababa – At least three civilians were killed, two were injured and several others were arrested in ongoing protests in the Guji zone, Southern Oromia, following the establishment of the new zone of ‘East Borana’, comprising 10 districts from Borana, Bale and Guji zones, residents told Addis Standard.
The Caffee Oromia, on Monday, February 27, 2023, announced that, East Borana zone will be formed as the 21st zone of Oromia, and the former zonal capital of Guji zone Nagelle would be the seat of the administration of the newly formed East Borana zone, while the administration of the Guji zone moves to Adola Rede.
The decision which the regional parliament said was made “to respond to the long-standing demands of development, security and good governance of the people” was outright rejected by residents of the Guji zone leading to massive demonstrations in several cities and towns of the zone.
Boru Meshi, a native of Guji and a journalist who is closely following the issue, told Addis Standard that the reason for the protests was the announcement of the incorporation of three districts including Negelle, the capital of Guji zone, to the newly established ‘East Borana’ zone.
“Negelle is a town with a great history among the Guji people and it is a town that the people and intellectuals have paid a high price for. It is unacceptable to simply move it to another zone without consulting the people,” Boru said.
Following the decision of establishment of the new zone, protests have been going on in all districts of the Guji zone including Shakiso town, Bore and Adola Wayu districts, since Tuesday, Boru said, adding that three people, including two students, were shot dead and one injured in a clash between community police and civilians in Bore district on Tuesday.
A resident of Shakiso town who did not want to be named for his safety also confirmed to Addis Standard that normal activities have been suspended and public protests are underway in Shakiso town since last Tuesday.
Gelchu Boru, another resident, and a lawyer by profession, said the decision to include Negelle town and three districts from Guji to the East Borana zone faced strong and wide protests as it is “not in accordance with the culture, tradition and history of the people.”
Gelchu said, “the decision to add the capital and districts of Guji zone to another zone is not intended to provide faster services as the government claims but a conspiracy to destroy the sense of brotherhood between the communities of the two zones [Guji and Borana].”
“Negelle town is the center of culture, tradition and history of the Guji people,” Gelchu said, adding that the protests that started in Bule Hora district have spread to all districts of Guji zone following the announcement of the incorporation of Negelle town into the newly established zone. Gelchu said the decision was also opposed by intellectuals and the wider community of Guji zone.
He said civilians were also killed in the protests in these districts. “Four people were shot and three died in the Bore district. I also have information that one person was hospitalized after being beaten by police in Adola Wayu district. Many have been arrested.”
Gelchu said that he was informed that the officials of Guji zone were also opposed to the decision of the Caffee Oromia, adding that today [Friday], a committee sent from the Oromia regional state government is holding discussions with the community together with zone officials.
Attempts by Addis Standard to reach Guji zone administration officials and security bureau of the zone for further information on the matter were unsuccessful. AS