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Gurages Stage Rally

By Dawit Ketema & Dagnachew Teklu, The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa) 19 March 2001

Addis Ababa—Several thousands of ethnic Gurages residing in Addis took to the streets yesterday to protest against ethnic Kebienas’ claim of Wolkite town.

The demonstrators, who carried placards and chanted slogans on Meskel Square yesterday morning said they consider the Kebiena claims as ethnic provocations.

Ever since the status of Wolkite town, capital of the Gurage zone, was reportedly contested by minority ethnic Kebienas, areas resided by the Gurages and Kebienas have been hot beds of tension.

Another march was organized in Dire Dawa the day before yesterday for the same reason.

According to writer Alemayehu Neri who was present at the march, the 1994 statistics show that the Gurage zone is inhabited by 46,286 ethnic Gurages and 25,498 ethnic Kebienas.

Similarly, he said, Wolkite currently has inhabitants of 10,132 Gurages and 900 Kebienas.

Ato Tamrat Abebe who heads the committee that organized the protest, told The Daily Monitor that the Gurages believed it was the Kebienas’ right to raise questions of identity but he also said it is unthinkable and illegal to raise questions concerning the status of the Wolkite town.

Tamrat further said that unless immediate measures are taken by the government, serious problems are bound to arise between the two ethnic groups.