Leader of Ethiopia’s Amhara region resigns

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -The president of Ethiopia’s Amhara region, which has been convulsed by deadly clashes over the past month between the army and local militiamen, resigned on Friday and has been replaced, state-run media reported.

Yilkal Kefale resigned during an emergency meeting of the regional council, the Amhara Media Corporation (AMC) reported. He was replaced by Arega Kebede, who once led an official militia that operates under the authority of the regional government.

Yilkal said in farewell remarks to the council that he had first submitted his resignation letter to the ruling Prosperity Party eight months ago but that recent crises had forced him to stay on longer, AMC reported.

Violent protests broke out in Amhara, the second most populous of Ethiopia’s 12 regions, in April after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered that regional security forces be integrated into the police or federal army.

Many Amharas saw the order as aimed at undermining the region’s security. The federal government denied this and said the decree was meant to strengthen national unity.

Similar grievances led to the clashes that erupted late last month between the military and Fano, a local militia that had fought in support of federal troops during the two-year civil war in the neighbouring Tigray region that ended last November.

Federal forces managed to push Fano militiamen out of most major towns earlier this month, but fighting has continued in rural areas, according to residents and activist groups.

(Reporting by Dawit EndeshawWriting by Hereward HollandEditing by Aaron Ross and Frances Kerry)