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News: Benishangul Gumuz regional govt, rebel group sign peace agreement

The peace agreement was signed by the President of Benishangul Gumuz Regional state, Ashadli Hassan, center, and the Chairman of the GPDM, Giragn Gudetta, right. Picture: Region’s communication bureau

Addis Abeba – The Benishangul Gumuz regional government communication bureau said the regional government and and the Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement (GPDM), a rebel group militarily active in the region, signed a peace agreement today to resolve their differences “through dialogue.”

The peace agreement was signed by the President of Benishangul Gumuz Regional state, Ashadli Hassan, and the Chairman of the GPDM, Giragn Gudetta at program held in Asossa, the region’s capital city. Ashadli said that the agreement reached was based on dialogue that that took into consideration and respect to the constitution.

The Chairman of of GPDM, Giragn Gudetta, on his part expressed his satisfaction with the agreement reached and said that the rebel group was committed to discharge its part to make a dialogue-based development a reality. He has called on all to cooperate so that the peace agreement can be brought on the ground to bring concrete results for the peace of the region, the communication bureau said.

Present at the even was Major General Amde, coordinator of Benishangul Gumuz Region Defense Forces Command Post of the Defense, according to the communication bureau. In addition, regional and zonal senior leaders and local elders, including the regional state deputy President Getahun Abdisa, the deputy speaker of the regional state council Alemnesh Yibas, and the head of the regional state prosperity party office Ishaq Abdulkadir witnessed the signing of the agreement.

In May last year, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Benishangul Gumuz regional state government and an unnamed “armed group”, which would see members of the later take up leadership positions in the region, acquire urban and rural land, as well as receive credit facilities including for women with a stated goal of solving the security crisis in the region sustainably.

Among the points included in the MoU were for members of the armed group, based on their education levels, to be assigned in place of leadership in regional, zonal and Wereda levels. Accordingly, two regional, three zonal and four Wereda level positions will be made available to the members of the unnamed armed group. In addition, urban plot for housing and rural land for farming will be made available to the members of the armed group; cooperative schemes which will include women as well as career opportunities based on prior experiences including job opportunities in the region’s security sector and loan facilities will also be made available.

In March this year however, an attack by armed militants claimed the lives of at least 20 civilians when a public bus traveling from Metekel to Guba was ambushed; dozens more were also injured. Officials blamed the attack on unnamed “anti-peace forces” infiltrating through Sudan, and had carried out similar attacks on civilians in the past.

In recent months however, efforts were being exerted by local community members especially in Metekel, the region’s violence ravaged zone, to bring reconciliations and ebb the escalation of violence since 2020 that had resulted in mass displacements, indiscriminate killings, and property damage. AS

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