By Miguel Otárola
The prime minister of Ethiopia is expected to visit Minneapolis on July 30, and city officials are urging him to help end conflict between that country’s Oromo and Somali communities.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April. His trip would mark the first time that an Ethiopian prime minister has visited the Twin Cities, according to Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame.
Clashes between Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromo ethnic groups in recent years have resulted in hundreds of deaths, mass arrests and the forced displacement of thousands. Abiy has been praised as a reform-minded leader who this month vowed to end hostility between Ethiopia and Eritrea following a brutal border war two decades ago.
Warsame recently raised a resolution condemning what he called a “humanitarian crisis” in Ethiopia. He urged the Ethiopian government to respect both the Oromo and Somali communities, and for Abiy to take actions to end national violence and return displaced people to their homes.
The council adopted the resolution at its regular meeting July 20.
“The communities have thought that this is a very important state to concentrate the new prime minister’s mind to the importance of the lives of our civilians back in Ethiopia,” Warsame said at the meeting. “This is a message of peace; it is a message of love.”
Minneapolis school board member Siad Ali stood by Warsame in support of the resolution.
“The Oromo and Somali communities are brothers and sisters and they share everything in life,” Ali said. “Therefore, it’s very important that we have to condemn the violence that’s going on in Ethiopia.”
Minnesota is home to the largest diaspora of both Somalis and Oromos in the nation.