Peace has largely been established in the border areas of Oromia and Somali regional states, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on Thursday.
Heavy clashes along the Oromia-Somali boundary in September spilled into ethnic violence which left scores of people dead and tens of thousands displaced.
Speaking to media, the PM said although the conflict between the two largest regional states of Ethiopia had a veneer of border demarcation dispute it was instigated by “groups” involved in the illegal trade of “Khat.”
Khat, a mild stimulant leaf grown across Ethiopia, is chewed by millions of Ethiopians who use it to help them conduct work, undertake home studies or use it for recreational purposes.
Oromia regional state is the largest Khat producing area in Ethiopia while Somali regional state borders Somalia and Djibouti the main foreign destinations for Ethiopia’s Khat exports.
Desalegn further stated the government has arrested individuals suspected of participation in the violence with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission currently investigating human rights violations in order to recommend legal and administrative measures that could be taken.
He also said a taskforce comprised of federal and regional members has been established to ensure quick rehabilitation of displaced people.
Oromia and Somali regional states have been locked in a dispute over the delineation of their common boundary for almost two decades.
A referendum in October 2004 was supposed to demarcate the boundary between the two regional states, but its implementation has been stalled ever since with both sides accusing each other of non-compliance with the referendum results.