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|ISSUE 54 February 3, 2003||
Somalis in Ethiopia Meet to Plan Fight Against Current Regional Administration
Jig-jiga News Agency, January 29, 2003 (JNA), Addis - Somali zone’s political parties have been warned they face increasing threats of oppression as they build there support and influence. Organizing at the first major underground conference of the Somali Zone parties since the parties began around 12 years ago, president of the Somali Parties Federation in Dire dawa said his party was being attacked by the Jigjiga Regional Government following its winning of 69 per cent of the vote in a recent election.
The president told the underground conference, being held over three days in the Dire dawa capital of Gurgure/Aisa Zone, that two party members had been imprisoned and tortured for attempting to save a Dire Dawa to be part of Somali Regional State.
He said such oppressive measures were likely to increase, meaning Somali Zone parties needed to unite regionally to protect their City (Dire dawa) and their beliefs. "Why? Because we do the right things, we get attacked every day, they don’t want us to talk about our city Dire dawa," he said.
One of the key developments from the underground conference will be the likely ratification of a charter or manifesto for Somali Regional State parties and groups to be adopted regionally.
The charter, and an accompanying policy document, will be used to unite and rally Somali groups in Ethiopia, particularly to regain their beloved city of Dire dawa.
A member of regional parliament and leader of Godey development agency told the conference "Somali parties shared a common optimism, which helped sustain them in the face of antagonistic regional political systems and its party SPDP." He said Somali Zone parties had to give a voice to the "silent messages" from the Somali State’s people (Somali National Regional State -Ethiopia) and the Somali city (Dire dawa) and act as the voice of future generations. "This is what Federation of Somali Zone parties are for," he said.
A member of regional Parliament from Qabridahar zone and the Vice chairman of the underground conference said the biggest difference between the current ruling party (SPDP) and the Federation of Somali Zone parties is the willingness to think long-term (reconstruction and development of Somali people in Ethiopia).
He said above every member of the federation of Somali zone parties should be the words: "In all we are doing here, will people in 100 years thank us for it? " "In securing the future of the Somali zone, we secure happiness for the Somali regional state and the people of federal Ethiopia. One of the aims of the Federation of Somali parties is to turn around the tide of pessimism amongst the young people of the Somali region," conference spokesman said.