Ethiopia: Political Turmoil in the City-State of Harar

Washington D.C – Ethnic tensions between Harari and Oromo people in the city of Harar has reached pitch high following the murder of Mr. Hashim Idris, a Harari People’s Regional State Municipality worker. Mr. Idris, of Adare origin, was shot in Harar Faras Magala on April 13, 2011 by unidentified men. However, due to a growing discontent and outrage by Oromos who inhabit most of the area surrounding the city state, the murder is being blamed on Oromo businessmen.


After undergoing surgery at Menelik II Hospital in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Mr. Idris passed on April 16, 2011. His body was later transferred to Harar and a funeral service attended by both Oromo and Harari’s was conducted on the same day. Reports from the area are overly conflicted.


Some say, the alleged businessmen fired two bullets at the deceased, stroking him in the head, after a brief confrontation over a plot of land and property. The Harari People’s Regional State investment strategy has been criticized for providing land only to wealthy Hararis forcibly displacing Oromo farmers who have tilled the land for generations.


Other reports indicate Mr. Idris was murdered by those known to the regional administration – premeditated and planned. The assailants were trying to cover-up a massive corruption scandal currently under investigation. Mr. Idris who has built a reputation for being honest, loyal and vocal critic of the region’s unprecedented corruption was seen as a threat.


Following the highly political incident, ethnic Harari’s first flocked to the regional president’s office. The demonstrators demanded the killing of the alleged murderers, whom they identified by name, and vowed to retaliate if no action was taken. The federal riot police was called in immediately and teargas was used to disperse the demonstration.


The Harari People’s National Regional State is one of the nine ethnic regions in Ethiopia with a total population of about 185,000. The region was formed by separating the Hundane Wereda from East Hararghe Zone of Oromia. The formation of the Harari regional state at the heart of Oromia has always been questionable. Meles Zenawi’s regime, the ruling party in Ethiopia, has been using ethnicity to divide people and instigate conflicts between an otherwise harmonious people of Ethiopia.



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