Demonstrations are to be expected and clashes are possible between demonstrators and security forces in Hawassa (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' region) on Thursday, July 18, as activists are reportedly planning to declare the formation of a new region in Ethiopia for the Sidama ethnic group. If announced, the declaration would come as an apparent rejection to an offer made Tuesday, July 16, by the National Election Board to have the Sidama ethnic community hold a referendum on whether to create their own region within five months.
A heightened security presence has been reported in Hawassa on Wednesday, July 17, before the expected declaration. Localized transportation disruptions are to be anticipated around demonstrations.
Activists' planned announcement of a new region for the Sidama ethnic group comes amid high political tensions in Ethiopia. Notably, on June 22, gunmen killed five major political figures and advisors, including the Amhara regional president and the Ethiopian army chief of staff, in twin attacks in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar (Amhara region). Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed labeled the attacks an attempted coup and has blamed Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige, the head of Amhara region's security. Tsige was killed in a security operation on June 24.
Individuals in Ethiopia, and particularly those in Hawassa, are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations due to potential violence, anticipate heightened security measures and transportation disruptions near large public gatherings, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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