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Last Wednesday, Siraj Fegessa, Minister of Defense and Secretariat of the National Security Council, gave a one hour press conference at Military Officers Club where he provided an update on the unrest along Somali, Oromia border region.
He said that so far Somali police have not arrested a person suspected of being involved in a recent border clash between the two regions.
In Ethiopia’s Somali region, 29 arrest warrants were handed out but only 12 people have been captured. In Oromia 26 arrest warrants have been issued but only three are in custody, Siraj said.
“We are not happy with what we see as slow action being taken by the two regions to capture people suspected of violence,” he said.
In February and March, hundreds were reported to have been killed in the southern Oromia district of NegeleBorena.
Ethnic Oromos allege that the Liyu Police of Somalia Region, which has previously been accused by rights groups of human rights violations, is behind the current attacks.
The Somali regional government has however rejected the allegations and charged that senior officials in the Oromia government were sympathizers of the Oromo Liberation Front, which is categorized as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government.
Currently the border, which is made up of nearly 60 weredas is being controlled by the federal police in an attempt to calm down the situation.
“We have observed an unstable environment in around 19 universities in Amhara, Tigray and Oromia. In these schools over 1,000 students were dismissed for violating the discipline code. Thanks to the elders and peace loving people there is a more stable atmosphere along the borders, the situation is more stable and everything is back to normal,” he said.
He added that over 1,000 guns were confiscated along the border in places like Togo Chale, and Metema as they were being smuggled over the border.
He also said new regulations are being prepared to stop illegal ownership of guns.
Journalists asked him how many people have died in the recent unrest, they also asked about allegations that solders had taken heavy handed actions against protesters and if defense forces included enough ethnicities.
“We are still trying to determine how many people and solders died in the protests, as soon as we know we will inform the public. As the PM said before we are looking at our actions and will find out if defense forces took inappropriate actions.”
“We believe we have the right proportion of ethnicities but we will continue to work hard in this area,” he added. He went on to say that long lasting peace depends on addressing the concerns of the people.