Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education has made changes to placement of freshmen into universities located in the Oromia and Somali states.
The latest move effectively means students from Oromia and Somali regions will only be placed in universities located in their respective regions. The Ministry added that as at November 3, 2017; the change of placement had been completed.
It has undertones of security given the deadly clashes that has ensued between the two states in the country’s east. The decision is also largely seen as an accession to the position advanced a week ago by the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) – a member of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition.
The OPDO’s top decision making body decided that students from Oromia were no longer going to attend university in Jijiga University in the Somali regional state.
It also follows protests being staged inside universities in Oromia demanding reassignment of students from Jijiga university due to ‘safety concerns,’ the Addis Standard news portal reported at the time.
The inter-regional clashes is said to be ethnic in nature even though political, human rights watchers and Oromo activists insist that it has an element of government complicity. The government says it continues efforts to restore a durable peace in the area.
Most ethnic Oromos believe that the government continues to arm a paramilitary force, the ‘Liyu Police’ located in the Somali region as part of efforts to clamp down on Oromo protesters.
Some residents and activists continue to blame the Liyu Police for the clashes that led to deaths and massive displacements. Despite long-standing talk of resource control fueling the tensions, some residents and activists say the Liyu police are more to blame for recent incidents.
Meanwhile, a new wave of anti-government protests continue to gain currency in Oromia – the heartland of similar protests between 2015 – 2016. It led to a state of emergency in October 2016, a six-month measure that eventually lasted 10 months, it was lifted in early August 2017.