Former Ginbot 7 Member Andargacew Interview


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Former Ginbot 7 Member Andargacew Interview The Sidama question one of the many pending questions of national self-determination in Ethiopia, appears to be back to the limelight of Ethiopian politics following the ascendance to power of an Oromo prime minister (2018) after years of protests (2014-2018) mainly in the Oromia National Regional State. The resurgence of Sidama nationalism seemed to surprise and annoy many political pundits based in Addis Abeba. It also led to the production of commentaries and opinions that, seen from Sidama nationalist perspectives, add to the stereotyping of the Sidama quest for self-rule and respect. Pending further critique of the colonial logic that lie beneath such commentaries and opinions, in this short opinion I focus on the issue of Hawassa as the future capital of Sidama National Regional State. The piece is an attempt to respond to non-Sidama perspectives that dominate and shape opinions nationally. It is my view that the Sidama’s quest for self-rule have more support among non-Sidamas now than before. Other than among the Oromo nationalists with whom Sidama nationalists sought and worked in solidarity for decades the support (however reluctant that might be) appears to be coming from other parts of the Ethiopian public too. Opinions expressed on Addis Standard and elsewhere following the re-initiation of the formal procedures for statehood by the Sidama Zone in 2018 are exemplary One of the issues that does not seem to sit well with the objectors of Sidama self-determination or its newfound reluctant supporters is a Sidama National Regional State whose capital is Hawassa According to some, it is against law and justice to make Hawassa, one of the largest cities in Ethiopia where people from different ethnic background reside, the capital of a state which is to become a homeland for but one of the ethnic groups. Some add Hawassa is too modern and beautiful to be given away to a national regional state (which they seem to consider as a mark of traditionalism). In their case against an Hawassa-based Sidama state, some go as far as raising the fact that the Sidamas are numerically only the third largest in terms of population size in the city and that the city was the capital only of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPRS) for over two decades since the reconstitution of Ethiopia as a federation of nations. These arguments are not actually new to Sidama nationalists. They have been deployed before, in various forms, to frustrate their long-held quest for self-rule. The argument that the city was the capital of SNNPRS (and hence should stay the same at the expense of the Sidamas) is disingenuous. It did not consider the fact that (1) the city has always been the capital of the Sidama Zone for over two decades (i.e., since 1991); and (2) as such, it was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the zonal administration before it was violently excised from it at the turn of the 21st century. As someone who lived through the transition of Hawassa from a town within the jurisdiction of Sidama Zone to a town answerable to SNNPRS, I know what that meant for the Sidamas who, like many indigenous people of the highland peripheral parts of Ethiopia, ceded ancestral lands to towns that were for long centers of extraction and demographic colonization. The transition was also consequential for it gave license to the aggressive incorporation of indigenous Sidama lands to the city in the name of development and the resultant destitution of the dispossessed Sidama farmers, probably in the scale not witnessed during the era of the neftagna gebbar system. The argument that suggest Hawassa has always been outside of Sidama must therefore be denaturalized, more so now when such Sidama rural towns as Tulla are part of the Hawassa city administration

Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el Sisi concluded a joint press conference with his Ethiopian counterpart by seeking the strongest reassurance concerning the latter’s dam project on the Nile. Talks over the Grand Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia’s $4 billion hydroelectric project, have been deadlocked for months. Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed was in Egypt for a two day state visit to conclude the resolution of the dispute over the Nile project, following the establishment of a joint scientific committee to handle the matter last month. displayAdvert("mpu_3") We will take care of the Nile and we will preserve your share and we will work to increase this quota and President Sisi and I will work on this. At the end of talks, the two leaders held a news conference, where Sisi asked Ahmed to swear to God before the Egyptian people that he will not hurt Egypt’s share of the Nile. “I swear to God, we will never harm you,” Ahmed repeated the words in Arabic after Sisi, who thanked him for releasing jailed Ethiopians. The two leaders signalled their commitment to mutually benefiting from the Nile’s waters and cooperate in other projects. “We have come a long

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