Politics

Amhara region emergency command post chief admits armed groups “took control” of some zones and districts, “released criminals from prison”

Addis Abeba – Temesgen Tiruneh, Director General of National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and lead the military Command Post overseeing the federally declared State of Emergency (SoE) in the Amhara regional state admitted that armed groups operating in the region have “taken control” of some zones, woredas (districts) and towns in the region.

Temesgen, who was once the president of the Amhara regional state, said this in his brief given to state media this afternoon that the SoE Command Post has already commenced operationalizing its planed activities in the Amhara regional state. This is the first official statement by Temesgen following the establishment on 04 August of the SoE by the Council of Ministers (CoE). The the decree is yet to be approved by the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR).

In addition to taking control of some zones and districts in the region, Temesgen also revealed that the armed forces whom he has not mentioned by name but said were “robbery force” have also “released criminals from prison” in some places. He also accused them of operating to “dismantle the regional state government” with a broader goal of moving onto the “federal system.” However, he fell short of mentioning the areas u=controlled by the group and the prisons from where the alleged “criminals” were released from.

His admission confirms reports that some factions of the non-state armed and decentralized group called Fano have unseated local administrations and took control several areas in the regional state.

Temesgen further said that the SoE Command Post is operating in four different command unites that divided the restive Amhara regional state. They are: Western Amhara Command Post, Northwest Command Post, Central Shewa Command post, and East Amhara Command Post with details of leadership hierarchy that included, Ethiopian National Defense Forces, (ENDF), the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the Federal Police, the Regional Police and the ruling Prosperity Party (PP).

Part of the works the Command Post is seeking to address is straightening the civilian administration of the regional government which, Tmesgen said is an “elected party by the people.”

Referring to the two years war that covered the Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions, Temesgen said that in the the post-war period these “informal armed groups” were given the alternatives to reintegrate into the security structute, including return to civilian lives though mediation; but some have “returned into the destructive roles they were in.” The Command Post has interdicted its own guideline to brainstorm this factor to the society, he said.

The state of emergency, which is yet to be approved by the HoPR, will primarily be implemented in the Amhara regional state, but in the wake of situations that exacerbate the security crisis in the region or nationwide, it can be implemented anywhere in the country, according to Gedion Timotheows, Minister of Justice.  

Under the SoE, civilian administration of the Amhara region is suspended and various individuals rights are restricts with the Command Post authorized to take several measures and prohibitions during the six month period of time when the state of emergency is expected to last.

The immediate causes of the current crisis in the Amhara regional state followed the federal government’s decision to reorganize regional special forces into regular police and the national army. On 06 April the federal government announced that it had started taking “practical activities” to dissolve controversial regional state special forces and “reorganize” them into regular regional and federal police, as well as the national army. While the process has largely went unimpeded in other regional states, the decision has quickly led to mass protests and widespread instability in Amhara regional state and the subsequent assassination on 27 April of the Head of the ruling Prosperity Party in the region, Girma YeshitilaAS

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