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Breaking: Amhara state council appoints Arega Kebede after regional president resigns

Arega Kebede, incoming president of the Amhara regional state (Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia)

Addis Abeba – The Council of Amhara regional state has appointed Arega Kebede, the former Amhara region vital events registration agency director as the incoming president after accepting the resignation of Dr. Yilkal Kefale at the ongoing 6th round, 2nd year term, first emergency meeting being held in the capital city Bahir Dar.

Arega Kebede had served as Amhara state vital events registration agency director general. Following high-level assassination in June 2019 including the then regional President Dr. Ambachew Mekonnen, Arega was appointed to head the Amhara regional state militia bureau, where he served for about a year.

The emergency meeting of Council convened this morning to discuss about the crisis in the regional state where six months state of emergency was declared earlier this month by the national parliament.

In his resignation speech, Dr. Yilikal said that that the political struggle of the Amhara people is complex and that the lack of common goal, common vision, adequate struggle strategy and lack of alignment with others have made the work of leading the region challenging, according to regional media.

He added that while the issues of the Amhara people that have been singled out are being resolved under the broad Ethiopian frameworks, polemic ideas have narrowed the platform to stand together.

The Amhara regional state is put under a state of emergency in the wake of rising security crisis that hit the region since April this year.

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.

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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 Yeshitila.

The state of emergency was declared after a letter was issued on 03 August by the outgoing president Dr Yilikal requesting the federal government to intervene in the region and “implement the necessary legal framework” in order to control the deteriorating security crisis in the region. The letter urged the federal government to take “appropriate measures based on the FDRE constitution” stating that the security situation was causing major humanitarian, social and economic issues, and it is no longer possible to control the situation with regular law enforcement authorities. But federal forces were already on the ground and reported to have been engaged in militarized confrontation with the Fano militia in the immediate wake Girma’s assassination.

Dr Yilikal admitted that the crisis in the region was having a detrimental effect including road blockades and restrictions on people’s movements with significant social, economic, and political repercussions resulting in mutual destruction and human casualties.

One too many regional presidents

Dr. Yilikal Kefale Assres was elected to serve as president of the Amhara region in September 2021. Previously he has served as head of the education bureau of the regional state and deputy dean for academic affairs of Debre Markos University.

He was the fifth president of the Amhara region since the former President Gedu Adargachew was brought to the federal government to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed his position in April 2018.

Other regional presidents include: Dr Ambachew Mekonnen, who was assassinated in June 2019 along with other senior officials of the region; Temesgen Tiruneh, who was appointed to head NISS after the war in the Tigray region erupted in November 2020 and who is currently leading the Amhara region State of Emergency Command Post; and Agegnehu Teshager, who was sworn in as the Speaker of the House of Federation in October 2021 after he left his position as president of the region. Dr. Yilikal took over the office replacing Teshager. AS

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