Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu briefed Addis-based diplomats on current situations in Ethiopia, giving particular emphasis on the recent irresponsible clashes in Oromia and Somali Regional States, unrest in some parts of Oromia and the recent devaluation of Ethiopian birr among others.
Dr. Workneh underscored that clashes in Oromia and Somali Regional States were instigated by rent-seeking groups who wanted to take advantage of minor conflicts. The Foreign Minister said the government was now working to dismantle the activities of these rent seeking groups along the border. He also noted the government held serious of discussions with residents in the affected areas, their community elders and religious leaders as well as presidents of the regional states on September 14 and October 4, 2017 to urge them to work together on the basis of the Federal Constitution and resolve the conflict through dialogue. Understanding was reached that the problem is largely contained with some pockets of conflicts along the common regional border, he added.
The Foreign Minister noted that the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is investigating the causes of deaths and alleged abuses in the said areas. Once the investigation of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, the Government vows to take action in accordance with relevant laws of the Sate on perpetrators of the recent killings and displacement, he noted.
He also said that Indicate that the Government is assisting those displaced and is urgently developing a rehabilitation program. He further noted that elders and religious leaders reaffirmed their commitment to support efforts of government to restore law and order and stressed the need for close and continuous collaboration. He also said that the government is taking all necessary measures to stabilize the areas affected by the conflict and the situation in the border areas between the Oromia and Somalia Regional States is now getting back to normalcy.
Following the incidents that took along the Oromia and Ethio-Somali regions and the killings and substantial displacement of civilians, illegal protests were seen at least in eight towns of the Oromia region causing the death of eight people in Shashemene and Borena areas, according to the Foreign Minister. He said the Oromia Regional State has taken measures against offenders who targeted civilians and also put members of the police and military members who acted irresponsibly.
Regarding the reforms in the country’s electoral process Dr. Workneh said a number of different proposals have been put forward among different parties aimed at creating a wider democratic space and productive talks are underway. He also noted Government’s move in the devaluation of the country’s currency as a way to “prop up exports”. The Minister has also responded to questions from members of the diplomatic community.