-depth: For the control of Kola Shara: Armed insurgency simmer in Ethiopia’s youngest regional state..

Addis Abeba – In a stunning turn of events, armed informal groups catapulted into the spotlight in August 2023 as they brazenly assumed control and imposed their own governance over a small kebele adjacent to one of Ethiopia’s major cities, maintaining their hold for an astonishing six-month span.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, this gripping tale didn’t unfold in the expected hotbeds of regions like Amhara or Oromia, renowned for their turbulent clashes and armed factions challenging both regional and federal authorities. Instead, the drama unfolded in the idyllic landscape of Southern Ethiopia, the nation’s 13th regional state, freshly formed just last year.

The battleground? Kola Shara, once a serene Kebele, near Arba Minch City in the Gamo Zone. Here, in a departure from the norm, tranquility was shattered as an unexpected act of defiance against established authority unfolded, leaving the region in a state of disbelief and unrest.

The takeover of Kola Shara, a small kebele renowned for its banana production and inhabited by nearly 20,000 individuals, was marked by violence. On 25 August 2024, a tumultuous clash erupted in the area, resulting in the tragic loss of 17 lives and inflicting numerous injuries.

The formation of the Southern Ethiopia region marked the establishment of the latest regional state within Ethiopia, delineated from six zones previously comprising the SNNP: Wolaita, Konso, South Omo, Gamo, Gedeo, and Gofa, alongside five special woredas (districts), namely Burji, Basketo, Ale, Amaro, and Derashe, following a referendum conducted in February 2023.

Nevertheless, since its inception, the newly formed Southern Ethiopia region has been embroiled in instability.

In August 2023, residents of the Gamo Zone and Arba Minch city initiated protests following the dissemination of an unverified document widely circulated on social media, which suggested Wolaita Sodo of the Wolaita zone as the principal administrative and political hub for the new collective region.


Xigasho:Addis Standard