Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
The Ethiopia- Somali region has been rocked by what local media portals are describing as rare protests against the regional government.
The protests took place in five towns namely Afdem, Bike, Erer, Shinile and Hadhagala district, Sitti zone of the region.
The protests which started earlier this week are said to be hinged on the call push for good governance and for the regional authorities to make good a prisoner release announcement.
Authorities had announced the release of thousands of prisoners months back but residents insist that the measure was a media stunt and that most of the people meant to benefit were still being held in a notorious jail in Ogaden.
The privately-run Addis Standard portal on Friday reported that two sources who spoke to them accused the regional president Abdi Mohamed Omar known by the alias Abdi Iley of nepotism and corruption.
One of the anonymous sources who spoke to the Addis Standard via telephone from Jijiga (the regional capital) said Abdi Iley was running the affairs of the region like a family business.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Abdi Iley announced a cabinet reschuffle that saw his deputy replaced. Sources say Abdikarim Igali was replaced because he belonged to one of the protesting towns.
The region’s main party, Ethiopian Somali People’s Democratic Party, ESPDP, is one of the five satellite or sister parties of the ruling EPRDF and currently governs the Somali regional state. The region is reputed for its ruthless paramilitary force, the Liyu Police.
The Liyu police have severally been accused of complicity in deadly raids in the region and on the neighbouring Oromia region. Human rights groups have documented the activities of the Liyu Police and called on government to put their excesses in check.