The president of Ethiopia’s turbulent Somali region has resigned, following violence in the regional capital killed at least 29 people.
Abdi Mohamoud Omar stepped down from his post Monday, according to two senior regional officials, including Khadar Abdi Ismail, an ally of Omar.
“Yes, there has been a change [of leadership]. The former president has handed over his responsibilities to Ahmed Abdi Mohamed,” Ismail told VOA’s Somali service. “That change has taken place peacefully, the former president has been working for the interest of the people, and now he handed over in consideration of the interest of the public.”
The new president, Mohamed, previously served as regional finance minister.
Meanwhile, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation has reported that the Ethiopian army has been ordered to enter the Somali regional state to “restore order.”
Witnesses in Jigjiga have confirmed that large columns of Ethiopian military vehicles entered the regional capital, Jigjiga, on Monday.
Regional officials said on Sunday 29 people were killed during Saturday’s violence in Jigjiga.
Fighting broke out Friday after an apparent rift between local authorities and the central Ethiopian government.
Ismail blamed the deaths on federal forces and said the violence was sparked by public anger over “the illegal entry of the dangerously armed troops” into the city.
The government recently accused regional officials of carrying out human rights abuses.
Ethiopia’s Somali region was the first area visited by new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after he was selected by the ruling party last April
At the time of the visit, Ahmed was trying to ease tensions between the ethnic Somali and Oromo communities, which have been engaged in deadly tit-for-tat attacks that have claimed the lives of dozens of people.