HAWASSA, Ethiopia (Reuters) – Protesters in the Ethiopian city of Hawassa blocked roads and burned tires on Thursday after security forces thwarted a meeting of activists to declare a new region for their Sidama ethnic group, witnesses said.
The declaration would be 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.
Hawassa - Capital - Southern - Nations - Region
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 new entity.
Almost all shops were closed and few cars were on the streets in Hawassa on Thursday as protesters wearing traditional red, white and yellow striped Sidama scarves and hats marched to the venue of a planned meeting of Sidama elders and youth.
Activists - Reuters - Security - Forces - Meeting
But activists told Reuters that security forces prevented them from accessing the meeting venue, and that mobile data had been blocked in an apparent move to impair their means of communication.
There were no immediate reports of violence....
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