News: SNNP President vows to take “irreversible action” against anti-peace elements, says security forces in Derashe faced “horrific massacre”

Ristu Yirda, President of SNNP regional state. Pictures: regional communication bureau

Addis Abeba – Ristu Yirda, President of Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state, said the region will be taking “irreversible action” against forces that are “destabilizing the peace of the people” in the region.

The President made the remark at an ongoing emergency meeting of the regional state’s Peace and Security Council, taking place in Sodo city, Wolayta, zone of the regional state, according to the region’s communication bureau. He also said that a “horrific massacre” was carried out against security forces in Derashe Special Woreda by “anti-peace forces.”

Although many areas in the region are peaceful, many people were displaced as a result of security crisis in some part of the region in the first years of the national change, which also caused deaths, injuries, and property damage.

Furthermore, President Ristu said armed forces were creating problems in parts of the region and described the security crisis in Konso zone, as well as Ale and Derashe special woredas where he said these armed forces were creating problems to prevent peaceful civilians from working and changing their lives. In Burji and Amaro Woredas in Konso zone the “enemy” in hiding were causing damages and works were underway “to break free from these enemy forces.”

A recent report by the UN said that intercommunal violence that erupted in Konso zone has led to a new wave of displacement of about 37,000 people from 10 Kebeles including about 19,000 women and girls.

Similarly, in February this year, the Amaro Special Woreda said years-long recurring armed attacks against civilians living in various districts of the Woreda claimed the lives of “hundreds”

On 30 April this year, gunmen killed Joberna Assefa, the Administrator of Derashe Special Woreda. It was the second killing of a senior government official in the area in as many weeks. In March, Geremu Gelebo, head of the revenue bureau of Segen woreda was gunned down while dining in a hotel with his friends.

Similarly, in February this year, the Amaro Special Woreda Communication Bureau said years-long recurring armed attacks against civilians living in various districts of the Woreda claimed the lives of “hundreds” and displaced some 44,202 people. “Residents from two kebeles [districts in towns] completely, and 18 Kebelles partially were also separated from their homes and properties.”

According to the regional President, over the past month, law enforcement measures resulted in the arrest of more than 450 people in the Derashe area, including 17 local leaders and members of security forces suspected of creating a security problems. And in South Omo Zone 650 suspects including 11 members of the local leadership had been arrested.

“Enemy” forces were also trying to “provoke religious conflict” in the region, he said, adding that there were forces that are trying to terrorize the society by inciting violence in the region where there is a diversity of religions. He mentioned the recent incident in Silte Zone as a testament to this and said the act did not represent the zonal community.

President Ristu promised that the region is striving at ongoing efforts to rebuild the property destroyed by the conflicts which has shown the community’s long-standing values. The regional state will not tolerate conflict anymore and will continue development works, he said and vowed to take strong actions against those who are responsible for creating insecurity. AS

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