President of Ethiopia’s Somali Region Resigns

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Abdi Iley, president of the Somali Region of Ethiopia resigned
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Abdi Mohammed Omar, president of the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia has resigned from his post as president of the region following violence in the regional capital Jijiga that claims the lives of more than 30 people.

Abdi Mohammed Omar, better known as Abdi Iley, tendered his resignation during an extraordinary meeting of the regional party, the Ethiopian Somali People’s Democratic Party (ESPDP).

However, Abdi will keep his position as chair of the ESPDP.

A senior regional official, Khadar Abdi Ismail, have confirmed the resignation.

“Yes, there has been a change [of leadership]. The former president has handed over his responsibilities to Ahmed Abdi Mohamed,” Ismail told VOA’s Somali service.

“That change has taken place peacefully, the former president has been working for the interest of the people, and now he handed over in consideration of the interest of the public,” he adds.

Meanwhile, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation has reported that the Ethiopian army has been ordered to enter the Somali regional state to “restore order.”

Witnesses in Jigjiga have confirmed that large columns of Ethiopian military vehicles entered the regional capital, Jigjiga, on Monday.

Violence broke out Friday after an apparent rift between local authorities and the central Ethiopian government.

The government recently accused regional officials of carrying out a range of human rights abuses using the notorious Liyu police.

Abdi Iley’s deepened control over the region’s political reality since 2010, his scanty development record, and his alleged brutal suppression of critics was largely sanctioned by the previous TPLF dominated administration in order to pacify and stabilize the restive Ogaden region.

But with the coming of the new Abiy’s government, the place and future of leaders such as Abdi Iley Iley have become threatened.

Somali region, one of the most underdeveloped parts of Ethiopia, remains especially troubling. Last year, hundreds of people lost their lives and more than one million were displaced in ethnic violence along the border with neighboring Oromia region, with Oromo residents blaming the Liyu police for carrying out attacks.

Oromo security forces have also been accused of abuses.

There are concerns that if not well handled, the Oromo – Somali crisis could cause a wider unrest and sow religious and ethnic instability.

* VOA News and The Reporter contributed to the story.