By Bileh Jelan @BilehJelan
Addis Abeba – Following reports of deployment of federal security forces in Jigjiga, capital of Somali regional state, the regional government released a statement accusing what it described as “anti-peace forces” of attempting to overthrow the regional government by force and colliding with terrorist organizations to destabilize the region.
The statement released on 13 February discussed the efforts the regional state government was exerting to address the drought that is ravaging different parts of the region. It said that “800 million birr has been allocated for response since the beginning of the drought to assist people and livestock. At the same time, the regional government has focused on alleviating the drought by providing a variety of nutrients, fodder and water, as well as medicines to prevent diseases.”
However, the statement admits that “given the scale and extent of the drought, it was not enough. Many locals and international media outlets have been covering the drought in East Africa since the beginning of the drought,” it said, adding that “among those who oversaw our efforts are President Sahlework Zewde, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and many others, all of whom praised the regional government’s efforts to reverse the drought.”
Over the period of last week alone, the regional government has provided 30,000 quintals of nutritious food and cereals to 46 woredas, providing assistance to more than 70,351 households in 10 drought-affected areas. In addition, 200 million birr worth of food items have been distributed to more than 38,978 households, the statement said.
“Anti-peace forces have been plotting to overthrow the regional government. They tried to disrupt the peace by galvanizing the people, destabilizing the region and seizing power by force.”Somali state government
Regardless of these efforts by the regional government, it said that “anti peace forces” were attempting to overthrow the elected government. “Anti-peace forces have been plotting to overthrow the regional government. They tried to disrupt the peace by galvanizing the people, destabilizing the region and seizing power by force.”
The Prosperity Party was elected in the region in the last general elections, the statement said, and accused the unidentified forces of attempting to reverse the results of the elections. “In the midst of the ongoing efforts of the Somali Regional State government and people to reverse the drought, these forces plotted to destabilize the region and we call on all Ethiopians to help us restore order.”
Addressing regional security forces and media, the statement read, “We call on our security forces, who are working tirelessly for peace in the region, to reaffirm their commitment to the peace and stability of our region, which has been ensured mainly by your efforts and strength. We also call on the media to combat these attempts to spread disinformation propagated by those who wish to destabilize the region.’
It also called on continued support from investors, members of the Ethio-Somali diaspora and business community, humanitarian organizations, and the people of the region. “We reiterate that we will work with all humanitarian actors to address this natural disaster, and we repeat that the Somali Regional State Government will take measures against those who use this disaster for their political agenda.”
This comes amid reports of fractions within the ruling Prosperity Party branch in the region and in the backdrop of continued criticism by the region’s opposition on the regional government’s response to the drought. In a joint statement released on 10 February, The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Congress for Somali Cause (CSC), a newly formed opposition group, said that “the current situation of the region, which leaves millions to deal with crippling famine, hunger, and malnutrition, proves the inability of the government to act responsibly, acknowledge the extent of the problem and invest in the right areas and programs.”
The joint statement further accused the regional government that “although the drought has already caused significant loss of human lives (including children) and destroyed asset and livelihoods, the measures employed so far by the federal and local government are, not only ineffective to deliver the lifesaving services, but have exposed the carelessness and sloppiness of the state. Instead of drawing attention the sense of urgency needed in tackling the drought, the Ethiopian federal leaders minimize the critical situation and danger the Somali people are facing in regard to the drought when they visit the Somali state.”
Similarly ONLF and activists are complaining about a fresh wave of crackdown on dissents in the region. The ONLF said last week through its social media that it condemned the “illegal detention of dissenting politicians and youth who are being denied freedom of expression, the right of association and the right to criticize the failed policies of the Somali state government in regard to basic services and the mismanaged drought.” AS