Sidama People - Ethiopia News

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A political party representing some of Ethiopia’s ethnic Sidama people said on Thursday it would postpone plans to declare a new region in defiance of the federal government and would accept the offer of a referendum in five months’ time. The plans would be a direct challenge to the federal government and could encourage eight other ethnic groups to make similar demands. “Now the most important thing is peace for our people,” Million Tumato, president of the Sidama Liberation Movement Party, told Reuters. “Still the five months timeline is not specific as it doesn’t indicate when the referendum will take place.” Earlier on Thursday protesters in the Ethiopian city of Hawassa had blocked roads and burned tires after security forces thwarted a meeting of activists to declare a new region for their Sidama ethnic group, witnesses said. The declaration would have been a test of whether Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal government can stick to its commitment to peaceful political reforms amid increasing demands from competing ethno-nationalist groups. Another official from the SLM blamed the national electoral board for the protests in Hawassa. “It tested the people’s patience. We could have avoided this situation had they acted one week ago,” said Dukale Lamiso, chairman of the Sidama Liberation Movement. “Nonetheless, we accept the timeline and we are ready to cooperate.” Hawassa is the capital of the multi-ethnic Southern Nations region but some Sidama – who make up the largest group there – want it as the capital of their own…

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