Ethiopia: the Oromos, time bomb for power

By Véronique le Jeune | Posted on 10/11/2018

Source: France Info translated to English

One-third of Ethiopia’s 105 million people live in the Oromia region, the largest of the country’s nine administrative entities. The Oromos, majority but poor, have always been kept out of power and, having become rebels, have been arrested and often killed by successive rulers. Faced with a dead-end crisis, it was one of them who became prime minister in April 2018. Awakening hope.The young Oromos dance

01 /08 
The Oromos Youth Dance

The mad energy that emanates from youth first benefited Abiy Ahmed, soon 42 years, appointed prime minister in spring 2018 following the resignation in February of his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn. The latter had been shattered by a vast movement of anti-government demonstrations led notably by the Oromo community. Today, the Oromos’ impatience with what they see as a lack of recognition of the new power has given way to frustration and  renewed violence against other ethnic groups.  On this ground, Mr. Ahmed’s room for maneuver seems narrow, while he is also successful, for example, for  the peace found with Eritrea .

Magarsa Kanaa 28 years old activist in traditional dress
02 /08 
Magarsa Kanaa, 28, an activist in traditional dress

This young teacher is one of the most committed of his ethnicity. With other boys his age, he defines himself as a “Queerro”, an untranslatable word that gives the image of a man, young, unmarried that nothing holds if there is a fight to be waged. Queerros are leaders. Some are members of the OLF (Oromo Liberation Front) which, since the arrival of new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has gone from armed action to peaceful action (in theory).© TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS

The Oromos people horsemen
03 /08

The Oromos, a people of horsemen

Wearing a lion’s mane, this young Oromo proudly rides on his horse adorned with ribbons and tassels in the colors of his ethnicity. Tradition serves as a solid foundation for the tumultuous youth of Oromia.© TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS

Tombs young Oromos victims former socialist military government
04 /08

Tombs of young Oromos victims of the former socialist military government

The Oromos become impatient and wonder if justice will one day be seized for their friends killed during the strikes and demonstrations repressed in the blood under the era of the former governments dominated by the ethnic group of Tigréens. Too many former leaders are still, according to them, in command in the corners of Oromia.© TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS

Oromia is agricultural region
05 /08

Oromia is an agricultural region

As in the rest of Ethiopia, the work of the land occupies a large place among the Oromos, also coffee producers . But drought and overgrazing reduce yields. The tools are in turn outdated by the years. Few farmers produce more than what is needed for their families and are kept in poverty. They are also waiting for change. © TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS

"Oromia first" "Oromia first"
06 /08

“Oromia first”, “Oromia first”

Everywhere in the region there are political rallies where the Queerros meet, ready to be heard. Jawar Mohammed, 32, is the leader of the “Oromia first” ideology. Back from the United States after ten years of exile, the man is seen as a “hero” by young Oromos but as a danger by the authorities. A tight mesh of the territory by its militants allows him to mobilize his troops quickly. The Oromia extends from the center-west of the country towards a broad band to the east and encompasses the capital, Addis Ababa.© TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS

A coffee waitress at Ambo Oromia behind poster leader Jawar Mohammed
07 /08

A coffee waitress in Ambo (Oromia) behind the poster of leader Jawar Mohammed

While, for the first time, Ethiopia has a woman president , and that in the Parliament, sits half of deputies, the struggle of the Oromos for more visibility in the country passes in majority by the men.© TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS

Oromo leader Jawar Mohammed meets in Kemise
08 /08

Oromo leader Jawar Mohammed meets in Kemise

Far from presenting himself as a warrior and a fanatic, the leader of “Oromia first” prefers to describe his gatherings as a pipeline of Oromo claims. “When the state brutes an ethnic identity, it is normal for it to defend itself”, implied by force, he explains, but today, he says, “my Queerros are disciplined and will remain faithful to nonviolent resistance. ” On October 23, 2018, speaking to the thousands of young people who came to listen to him, he thundered out, “Obey Abiy. Do not give in to the emotion and help the reforms to be made. Will these words be enough to reassure power in Addis Ababa?© TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS

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