ADDIS ABABA – Our sources have indicated that the one year unrest in the Konso Woreda has continued and the situation has aggravated in the Ethiopian New Year. The situation has become so severe that tourists have distanced themselves from the area and government employees have not been paid for the past five months, according to authorities in the locality.
Our sources in the area said the situation is still volatile and some residents of Karat town have blamed regional authorities for not addressing their pleas, which they said has aggravated the situation. However, the regional government says it has tried to find a solution to the questions raised and had labelled the issues as raised by ‘local traditional leaders personal interest.’ The Konso people have been exposing killings and rights violations in their areas to both local and international media outlets, and now are saying that the situation has aggravated in the new year after the ruling party, EPRDF, announced that it will make reforms. They allege that people from Konso have been taken to adjacent Woredas since the onset of the New Year.
Villages in Konso have reportedly been burned down but the source of the fire is not yet known. This has left many people homeless. People we talked to in the area have stressed that the Konso World Heritage sites and villages are now prone to damage due to the unrest. And areas that used to be frequented by tourists are now destabilize and are left quiet.
Many advocates have questioned the government’s assertion that ‘a few’ people are to blame for the chaos in the region. They said the question in the region has a broad base and that is why many government entities in the area are now defunct.
The other issue that is thought to be led by elites from Konso is the movement to secure a referendum to join the Oromia region. However, observers said that the government still has no clear policy regarding the call for referendum.
It is to be recalled that issues in Konso began to be raised after people in the Segen area demanded to be a Zonal state and asked Konso to become a Special Zone.