Proposed Solutions to the Security Problems in Oromia, Ethiopia
Via Daniel Dibaba, Mudde 29, 2018
1. The National Defense Force
First and foremost, the national defense force has to be restricted to the 25 Km from the border in each region (Oromia and Beneshangul-Gumuz). The army should try to stop the killing of innocent civilians within that region. The army should leave the Oromia towns and cities. There has to be a strong and critical military overhaul by the federal government with the aim of making the army a responsible national army that protects all Ethiopian citizens as their own irrespective of the people’s ethnic background. An effort has to be made to make sure the ethnic composition of the region is reflected within the army. In addition, I propose to deploy an army with a composition similar to the people of the region whenever emergencies occur. Forces not taking commands from the current government have to be disarmed, given reorientation and retraining, and have to be sent off from the army. The networks of the previous regime have to be dismantled and replaced by new security networks that are clean from all crimes and loyal to the ‘new government’.
Those who have committed crimes such as killing unarmed innocent civilians in the last one to five years have to be disarmed, tried in a military tribunal, and sentenced according to their crimes. The family of the victims have to be compensated by the federal government. The amount of compensation has to be estimated by an independent commission established to hold the military accountable for their crimes.
2. The Government of PM Abiyyi Ahmed and President Lamma Magarsa
It appears that the federal government and the regional government are very sensitive to political forces in Oromia-especially to OLF. Relative to the Amhara region where every civilian is armed to the teeth, Oromos had been intentionally disarmed by the EPRDF during the 27 years and the Oromo people cannot defend themselves from invasion by neighboring ethnic groups or the army. Moreover, Oromo Liberation Front Army is viewed as a threat to their government by the Prime Minister Abiyyi and President Lamma and their officers. This arises from a lack of understanding of the goal of OLA. The goal of OLA is protecting the safety of the Oromo people and ensuring the rights of citizens are respected. That being said, now everyone is aiming the next power transfer has to be through a peaceful election. So, both governments should not view OLA as a threat but as a resource of the region.
In 2015, the TPDM in Tigray region ceased fire and was integrated into the Tigray army. Recently, Andargachew Tsige admitted Arbanyochi Ginbot-7 has an army based in Amhara region. None of these two regions deployed a federal army on the opposition army. This is in stark contrast with what is going on in the Oromia region.
The regional government has petitioned to the federal government to deploy federal armies in conflict zones but the federal government has deployed hundreds of thousands of federal armies including both infantry and aerial fighters such as helicopters to Oromia towns and cities that are far away from the conflict zone-sometimes as far as 500-700 miles away from the conflict zones. The armies have been deployed in areas naturally occupied by the OLA and to OLA bases. This has resulted in numerous confrontations between the OLA and the army. The federal armies have sustained heavy casualty in some cases and have resorted to retaliation by attacking the civilians for the loses they sustained. The solution is that the federal armies have to be immediately removed from Oromia.
3. The Oromo Liberation Army (WBO)
A swift agreement has to be reached between ODP and OLF. OLA has to be integrated into Oromia special army. The current belligerent narrative has to immediately stop. ODP has to stop its animosity towards OLA and start considering OLA as a crucial asset and resource of the region. ODP leaders and OLF leaders have to together make a scheduled official visit to OLA bases to create a rapport between the government and OLA. Both leaders have to make a clear transition plan for the OLA into Oromia region’s security structures.
I know currently, there is no an institution called Oromia Special Army in Oromia. There used to be one, but it was dismantled by Mr. Junedin Sado the ex-president of Oromia. There is a tangible evidence that Oromia is vulnerable to invasion by neighboring ethnic groups. Having a well-trained and well-armed militia in Oromia is imperative and it will hinder the frequent incursions and prevent internal displacements and heinous crimes from being committed on the civilians. OLA is a very good resource upon which to build the Oromia Special Force. The Oromia special force has to be under the leadership of the regional government, and it has to be independent of politics. This makes sure, the army will remain intact every time the leading party changes. The army can ensure all political parties are free from intimidation because the army is impartial.
4. Oromia Interests
A lot of the popular demands have not been resolved. I would list a few here:
- Oromia’s special interest on Finfinnee. It is absurd that ODP has chosen to stay silent of this issue. The Oromo population wants to hear a concrete constitutional resolution on this.
- Eviction from Finfinnee area and expansion into Oromia. There has to be a clear demarcation of Finfinnee to make sure further evictions are not committed on farmers.
- Make Afaan Oromo a federal language
- Make a constitutional amendment to allow Oromos to have a quota in public office jobs in Finfinnee and the federal government. PM Abiyyi is surrounding himself mostly by people from one region hence continuing the same discriminatory policies as before. It may be difficult to redress past injustices, but the PM can make sure Oromos are well represented in his government.
- The PM Abiyyi has labeled Wallaga a risky area for him and Lamma to visit. His decision to deploy the federal army seems to be based on his sense of insecurity in the west Oromia. He has to make a formal apology and reorient himself on the issue. He should not tarnish a whole region and divide the people due to his perceived insecurities.