Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) kicked off its 9th organizational congress
September 19, 2018
Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) kicked off its 9th organizational congress today in Jimma, South Western Ethiopia. “Better ideas for more triumph” is the motto of the Congress.
1,066 voting participants and 250 observers are in attendance. Representatives of member organizations in the ruling coalition (EPRDF) – namely ANDM, SEPDM, and TPLF are also in attendance.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is also chairman of OPDO, and Lemma Megersa, president of Oromo region of Ethiopia, made opening speeches.
Abiy reminded attendees of the conference about the sacrifice that Oromo paid for Ethiopia and that Oromo will not secede as Oromo does not have a country outside of Ethiopia.
As for Oromo opposition parties, Abiy conveyed the message that there is no point in having a number of Oromo opposition parties and only two or three parties are enough. He also told some opposition parties who tend to employ identity politics to achieve selfish motives that they can no longer use Oromo people as a trademark for that purpose and that the rule of law will never be up for negotiation.
Abiy did not spare members of his own party (OPDO) as well: “Some talk about unity with us in the morning only to plot [with enemy] in the evening about how to destroy the country.” He added that those Oromo who work with the enemy will be considered as an enemy.
Lemma Megersa on his part emphasized on the importance of unity in his speech and called for different Oromo organizations to hold talk and resolve their differences so as to work together.
“Division of political parties has a negative impact on the unity of the people and parites should talk on their difference and work together,” Fana Broadcasting Corporation cited Lemma as saying.
Sabotage to reverse the ongoing struggle is another point he talked about and he called on concerned bodies, seemingly members, to refrain from moves that could weaken the organization, OPDO.
Representatives of “sister organizations” from within the ruling coalition EPRDF were also given the podium to have their say.
Nigussu Tilahun attended the Congress representing ANDM, a party that played a decisive role in the emergence of OPDO as a leader of the ruling coalition during the power struggle following the resignation of Hailemariam Desalenge in February 2018. He conveyed a message of unity and solidarity.
“Brotherly organizations of OPDO and ANDM have shouldered a grand national responsibility to mobilize Ethiopia along the path of peace and forgiveness,” said Nigussu. He added, “There are groups who are striving with all their powers to bring about a rift between the Ethiopian people; especially between the people of Amhara and Oromo and we need to make sure that their effort remains in vain.”
Meseret Meskele represented SEPDM and told participants of the Congress “the decisions from OPDO organizational congress could have the power to determine OPDO’s, EPRDF’s and the Country’s future.” She also affirmed that her organization will stand with OPDO for the task of building a democratic Ethiopia.
“TPLF and the people of Tigray have respect for the sacrifice OPDO paid for the rights of Oromo and Ethiopian People” is the message of TPLF representative to the Congress, Dr. Abraham Tekesete (a member of executive committee of TPLF.)
When the conference is completed, important decisions along restructuring the organization prone to bring new and young leaders will be made public, according to sources close to OPDO.
Evaluating organizational performance in the last three years, however, precedes the decision phase of the Congress which means that important and needed changes will be introduced.
OPDO is also expected to rebrand itself and emerge with a new emblem and party song. The draft is presented to the congress.
OPDO purged thousands of officials at the zone and district level a few months ago following manufactured violence in the southern parts of Ethiopia.
Today, Oromo regional state spokesperson, Dr. Negeri Lencho, announced that some members of the regional police are arrested in connection with the massacre in Burayu over the weekend.
OPDO has demonstrated keen interest in taking a leadership role in transforming Ethiopia into a modern multi-party country. Yet, the effort seems to be facing a challenge from opportunists within the party who are plotting with Oromo radical ethno-nationalist groups who work to dismember Ethiopia.
The latter group also seems to be working with TPLF recently. TPLF threw a party in Mekelle and Adigrat to receive Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) – a political party that it outlawed as a terrorist group for a long time – on their way back from their Eritrean base- perhaps the reason why Abiy Ahmed had to remind participants that “the people of Oromo despise opportunists.”
It was Prime Minister Abiy government that removed OLF from the list of terrorist group and invited them to come to the country for a peaceful struggle.