(STN-MUQDISHO):– Ethiopian National Defense Forces have reportedly clashed with Somali region Liyu police, according to several media reports. The Ethiopian National Defense Forces arrived in Jijiga on Friday backed by tanks and helicopters. After a brief gunfight, the Ethiopian Defense Forces are reportedly to have taken over regional parliament and other government buildings, as well the region’s TV and Radio stations.
According to the reports, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces have apprehended the region’s president, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, also known as ‘Abdi Iley’, who, according to government media has been accused of human right violations and inhumane treatment of detainees in the region.
It is to be recalled that Abdi Iley and his local militia known as Liyu Police have had on and off border clashes with Ethiopia’s Oromia region in the last few years. This has created the ire of many Oromia leaders who are now in position of power at the federal level.
There are also reports of random violence and looting by a group of youth, who are believed to be loyal to Abdi Iley. The attackers reportedly used government vehicles to carry the attacks. Kidane Mihret orthodox church was also torched, according to the witnesses. They also burned the Ethiopian flags and destroyed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s photos. There are also uncofirmed reports of fatalities. The situation has stablized on Saturday except for some sporadic gunfire, according to these reports.
Before his arrest, according to some reports, Iley had called meeting of the cabinet for today, saying that extraordinary matters had to be communicated, which some said was to trigger article 39 which would call for the secession of the region from Ethiopia. It also concided with meeting of region’s elders in Dire Dawa that some says were looking for potential replacement of Abdi Iley. Abdi Iley’s fate is unclear at this point.
Dr. Negeri Lencho, former Ethiopian government communications minister, wrote this on his Facebook page: “The tragic downfall of the puppet lowland dictator and his mafia groups is a big lesson for his highland old masters, fighting proxy war through manipulation and since recently threatening the federal system of disintegration. Let genuine democracy prevail in our unified FDRE to the demise of the dangerous dictators and the prosperity and rise of peace and freedom loving Ethiopian people.’
In the above statement, the term ‘highland masters’ appears to be a clear reference to the TPLF, one of the founding members of the EPRDF. It also shows a marked deterioration of relations between the TPLF and the rest of the EPRDF, the consequences of which can be very grave to the unity and stablity of the country.
On Saturday, the TPLF leadership has put out a statement that basically called for military operations in Somali region to stop and matters to be resolved peacefully.