Gaaddisa Hoggansa Oromoo a prelude to one party domination in Oromia
By Barroo Goobee, October 15, 2019
On October 1st five Oromo political organizations signed a pact in the presence of prime minister Abiy Ahmed, Oromia government officials, Oromo activists, and other dignitaries. The pact announced on Oromo media Network (OMN) and read by the omnipresent OMN owner and director Jawar Siraj Mohammed presented Abba Nagaya Jarraa, Obboo Lemma Megersa, Obboo Dawid Ibsa, Brigadier Kamal Galchuu, Professor Merera Gudina, and Obboo Galaasa Dilboo as signatories representing their respective parties. The parties are said to have agreed on three key points.
- Forming Gaaddisa Hoggansa Oromo
- Having peace in Oromia.
- Making the upcoming election fair and free for all.
Given the weight the presence of the Nobel laureate prime minister as a witness to the signing of the agreement might add and given the pressure the Oromo people exert on the political groups to unite might have, it is fair to assume that this time around the Oromo politicians are serious about having peace and harmony among themselves. Notwithstanding the announcement of the agreement with great fanfare, the pact is an elaborate charade by Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) to consolidate power ahead of the 2020 election by weakening or absorbing other Oromo political organizations.
To elucidate this assertion, expounding how OPDO has been dealing with the opposition parties is of a paramount importance. OPDO became a prominent political party in Oromia and Ethiopia not because it was the favorite of the Oromo people or not because it was known for building unity with Oromo political parties to safeguard the interest of the Oromo people. To the contrary, OPDO became a dominant organization by militarily expelling the Oromo people’s favorite Organizations -Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), United Oromo People Liberation Front (UOPLF), and Front for Independent and Democratic Oromia (FIDO) from the country. After keeping them at bay for twenty-six years, OPDO invited them to return home and pursue a peaceful political activity. One would hope that the invitation was a genuine offering of an olive branch, perhaps with a great possibility of power- sharing. One would also hope that the recently announced agreement is a harbinger of harmonious relationship between the government and opposition parties. Unfortunately, these hopes are hopes against hopes for the following reasons.
When OPDO invited the Oromo political organizations based abroad to come home, it did not extend the invitation in a spirit of power-sharing. Instead it welcomed them under the pretense of magnanimity as evidenced by OPDO’s actions and attitudes toward these organizations in the aftermath of their return. For instance, Obboo Lemma Megersa’s reference to the opposition groups as “those whom we absolved from their crimes and brought home from refugee” shows the contempt he and his OPDO organization have for the oppositions and exposes OPDO’s machination of inviting them to return only to render them insignificant as competitors.
To make them inconsequential, OPDO used the lure of employment, when possible, and open hostility otherwise.
First, Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) successfully incorporated ODF into its ranks with the lure of employment and other perks. It is enough to see the merger agreement made last year between these two organizations. Once folded into the ranks of Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), the ODF old guards such as Lencho Leta and Dr. Dima Nogo started to vigorously clamor for the other Oromo political organizations to follow suit and capitulate to ODP. Even before joining hand with ODP, Obboo Lencho Leta group was advocating the same. For example, in its central committee press, in which the group revealed the “Six truth”, ODF strongly urged other political parties not to compete against ODP citing ODP’s shouldering a heavy responsibility of governing the whole country as justification. In the same press release, ODF went as far as suggesting even suspending election in Oromia in favor of keeping OPD in power for undetermined time. It is also worth noting Dr. Dima Nogo’s speech at OPDO‘s 9th organizational conference last year in Jimma. Dr. Dima Nogo’s remarks in Afaan Oromoo was as follows:
Akka kiyyatti sila muummichi ministera yeroo dubbatan, ummata Oromootiif dhaaba lama, yoo guddate sadi, isa barbaachisa jedhan. Akka kiyyatti haala amma keessa jirru keessatti yeroo ammaatti ummatni Oromoo dhaaba cimaa dhaaba naamusa sibiilatiin utubame aantummaa ummataa qabu dhaaba tokkicha nu barbaachisa jedhu.
Simply put, Dr. Dima Nogo’s speech was a call for one political party system in Oromia. Of course, that one party Dr. NGO envisioned for Oromo is ODP camouflaged as Gaaddisa Hoggansa Oromoo.
Second, ODP brought OLF- United or ABO Tokkoome as it is known by its Oromo appellation under its influence with less effort. Once again, the modus operandi used to bring OLF-United under its influence was by offering employment opportunity in government-controlled sectors. General Hailu Gonfa, Dr. Kassim Abba Nasha, and Amin Junda are the beneficiary of such schemes and as a result their organization is in cahoots with ODP.
Third, ODP has attempted similar scheme on General Kamal Galchuu and Oromo National Party (ONP). In hiring Brigadier Kamal Galchuu last year as head of Oromia Administration and security office, ODP had hoped to incorporate him and his newly formed party into ODP. This view is supported by General Kemal’s assertion, in an interview on LTV Show on October 9, that by hiring him ODP wanted his party either to join with ODP or cease to exist as a party. When General Kamal Galchuu refused to conform, ODP’s machination failed miserably culminating in General Kamal’s being dump unceremoniously after only brief stint with the government.
Fourth, perhaps realizing job enticement may not work with OLF, ODP took a militaristic approach to eliminate OLF from the Oromo political arena. It arrested OLF’s members opened a two-prong war against Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) or WABO in Wellega and Gujii zones. Action against OLF is reminiscent of 1992. Military action against OLF did not bring the desired result.
Now since employment incentives and bellicose approach to bring all Oromo oppositions groups under its control did not work well as planned, ODP and their lackeys came up with yet another machination to bring Oromo political groups in ODP’s camp. This time, however, ODP and their surrogates wants to undermine the opposition party by appearing concerned about Oromo unity. Recently ODP became an ardent supporter of the idea of unity among Oromo political parties, using the threat of Amhara nationalism to the reform as a reason for necessity of the formation of such unity.
But what is the connection between merging into one party and the Naftegna treat? Does someone seriously think that if, God forbid, there is a direct existential threat to Oromia, there would be disagreement between ODP and the oppositions? Oromo politicians and the Oromo people tend to close ranks when faced with common enemy and tend to defer disagreement until the threat is passed. So why is ODP interested in joining force with the opposition?
The answerer is that ODP is interested in one thing only: to win election, and in order to do so it must eliminate the oppositions and make the election noncompetitive in which the ruling party’s victory is a forgone conclusion. That is why having the recent agreement with opposition party under the banner of unity, peace, and fair and free election is become significant. People might say what is wrong with having unity, peace, and fair and free election in Oromia? This is a legitimate question one might ask and of course, nothing is inherently wrong with aspiring to have unity, peace, and fair and free election to benefit Oromia and its people. What is wrong is to use these catchphrases to benefit only one party-ODP.
In fact, the recently signed agreement that unveiled the formation of Gaaddisa Hoggansa Oromo is to benefit ODP win the 2020 election. According to Adanech Abebe, OPD’s high ranking member and the countries Minister of Revenue, the unity agreement was necessary in order not to confuse the voters with eight or ten organizations. In other words, she wishes for the opposition parties to somehow melt away paving the way for ODP as a sole party representing the Oromo people. Furthermore, Adanech’s view is shared by Jawar Siraj Mohammed, the architect of the Gaaddisa Hoggansa Oromoo and a kingmaker in Oromo politics, who feverishly advocates for noncompetative or negotiated election in Oromia. Therefore, it is not coincident that Jawar Mohammed is one of the facilitators of the agreement between ODP and other Oromo political organizations. It is not a coincident that Jawar is the announcer of the agreement. It is not coincident that the name Gaaddisa Hoggansa Oromoo is chosen for the entity they formed. It is to be recalled that Jawar and other OPDO surrogates in diaspora organized a convention, Yaaii Hoggansa Oromoo, in Atlanta and Washington in October 2016, and in March 2017, respectively. The purpose in Organizing Yaaii Hoggansa Oromoo in 2016 and 2017 was to rally Oromos around OPDO in similar manner that the formation of Gaadisa Hogansa Oromoo is intended to rally opposition parties around ODP.
At the end, squashing the opposition to have one party system does not help democracy flourish. For democracy to flourish in any country, a multi-party system is a prerequisite. Oromia is no difference.