Quest for Answer from Prime Minister Abiy Ahimed and Obbo Lammaa Magarsa
By Tola Jilo, January 4, 2019
I issue this statement to convey my deep concern regarding the security crises in Western Oromia and Southern Oromia, and about the ongoing Oromo farmers displacement from the outskirts of Finfine. The confrontation between the Ethiopian Government and OLF is the major contributing factor for current security crisis in Oromia. More specifically I am saddened by the action of the Ethiopian government and Oromia regional government for sending the federal troop to West Oromia and Southern Oromia, disrupting the life of civilians and killing innocent children and women once again. Oromo has sacrificed tens and thousands of lives for the glimpse of hope that we see today and for the change that all other nationalities in Ethiopia are enjoying. Saying that, I also give credit for Dr. Abiy and Obbo Lamma for their accomplishment in this short time, specially the release of thousands of prisoners and for opening political space for opposition parties. Although some critics say, EPRDF released the people it had jailed to get credit, however, the prisoners were not released prior to an emerge of Dr. Abiy and Obbo Lamma. Hopefully releasing through the front door and bringing new prisoners through the backdoor will end in Ethiopia, which some critics say the “evolving door” already began in West, East, Southern and central Oromia. As a concerned citizen about the current political situation and security crisis in Oromia, I would like to draw the federal and regional government attention to the following;
Accomplishment: As an Oromo person, I am proud that Dr. Abiy and O. Lamma have shown to the world that Oromo is capable of leading this nation and to restore peace in Ethiopia. In this short time, they restored hope that the Ethiopian people can live together in harmony. I hope that this good beginning will be fostered through consultation, listening/dialogue, tolerance and accommodation of diversity.
Keeping promises: I hope and trust that Dr. Abiy and O. Lamma will live up to their promises regarding fostering the democratic right of the people for peaceful protest, to gather, to support or oppose any political party or platform, and the right to hold on a different opinion. Upon visiting North America, the prime minister encouraged the Diaspora community to liaise with his office if they have concern or inquiries about the political issues in Ethiopia. Therefore, I am reaching out to express my concern regarding the current security crisis in West and Southern Oromia which has caused disruption to development work, business, once again death of innocent children, youth and pregnant women. Dr. Abiy repeatedly addressed his audience that anything can be achieved through dialogue, and armed conflict as a primitive approach for conflict resolution. I would like to see this statement in practice and peaceful resolution of the recent conflict between the OLF and the government of Ethiopia
As the PM repeatedly addressed his audiences, historically in Ethiopia power transfer always involved armed conflict and power grab by force. The PM condemned the cyclic power grab by force in Ethiopia and opened political space for opposition parties where politicians discuss issues while keeping their differences. This means, the government will not interfere or force the people to accept the ruling party platform. I share these values that in the 21st century people should be free to choose and follow any political party or platform they like. Regardless of these promises, troops were sent to various parts of Oromia for the confrontation between ODP and OLF. Sending troops cannot solve the conflict between political parties. Dr. Abiy has done a vast research on conflict resolution and he is expert in the field, and I ask him for translating the theory and the promises into practice through solving the current security crisis in Oromia.
A dictator leadership is not born, but created: When TPLF first came to power PM Melese Zenawi was not a dictator. Like Dr. Abiy, he invited opposition parties including OLF to take part in the governance system. He developed popularity and at some points considered as emerging African leader. The Western believed everything he said and they gave him everything he asked for. Shortly he began smearing opposition parties as terrorist including Ginbot 7, OLF and even individuals who opposed the EPRDF platform. For 27 years the Western community were stone-deaf about the torturing and the killings of innocent Oromo people by its government. The USA and British government described the late PM as “an intelligent leader who transitioned Ethiopia from communist to democratic governance”. Eventually he transitioned Ethiopia from communist to a “Tigrian” dictator government. It took 27 years before the Western realize, but the change occurred from internal resistance. Disregarding the concerns of Oromo people and “selective listening” to the Amhara and Western nations hooray will not lead any governance to success. Great leaders always listen to their people and I am sure Dr. Abiy and O. Lamma will start listening to the concern of Oromo people and to share the value of their people.
The Ethiopian PM is Oromo: Our people understand that Dr. Abiy is the PM of the country, the chairperson of ODP, and an Oromo person. Therefore, any attempt made to control the Oromo politics forcefully under the leadership of Oromo PM doesn’t look good in history. In Ethiopian governance history, opposition political parties were always smeared and removed from political playfield. As a result, so far, fair election never took place in Ethiopia. The current confrontation between ODP and OLF appear smear campaign to remove the popular Oromo party from running for office. Dr.Abiy and Obbo Lamma are smart leaders and hopefully reverse the situation ASP. Delay to resolve these problems may have serious consequence on the fate of Oromo politics and existence of Ethiopia as the country. We learned from history that when government kills one innocent Oromo person, hundreds of enemies of the government born on the same day. Silencing the people under gunpoint doesn’t help to unify the country either.
The Asmara Accord: A coordinated media debriefing by high level representatives from ODP and OLF regarding the Asmara accord would increase transparency and trust for both parties. Please let the agreement be released for the people to be a judge.
Oromo would like to be treated as others (no better no less): During the past couple of years Oromo was killed and displaced by Somali and recently by Benishangul. Millions displaced from East and West Oromia; millions removed from their farming land in Showa zone from outskirts of Finfine; tens and thousands of Oromo youth were massacred while trying to stop the master plan. Regardless of the recent hoped “reform” Oromo still dying from East, South, and West, and still removed from its farming land from outskirts of the capital city. None of the Oromo demands regarding entitlement to the land and benefit from Finfine is fulfilled so far. Troops never sent to Afar and Somali where it is needed to stop conflicts; to Tigry where criminals refuge and the regional government refused to hand over criminals to the federal government which is subordination. Instead troop was sent to Moyale and West Oromia to kill the obedient Oromo people, the very people willing to work with this government. This type of unfair governance is a grave concern to many Oromo people and immediate action is required to remove the troops from Oromia and to resolve the differences peacefully.
Communication Issues on Media: There were repeated misinformation on media by ODP officials regarding the conflicts between ODP and OLF. The recent example was when Obbo Adisu Arega commented on media about disarming the armed group in Oromia. In his statement Obbo Addisu said, “there is no any other armed community or group in Ethiopia”. Right away some one posted from archives the video of the Amhara region president while he was reassuring his people by saying “we don’t disarm our people”. Officials like Obbo Adisu rather increase the tension and intensify the situation when they appear on media by giving false statement. If my voice matters as an Oromo person, individuals who don’t understand the need of Oromo people shouldn’t give Media statement. Although it is ideal, but I am not demanding or asking for arming the Oromo people like Amhara people. However, Oromia needs to reinforce its police force to secure the region. To accomplish this the OLF fighters are the Oromo youth, highly educated, love their people and they are the right people to complement.
To OLF leadership: I would like to stress that there are high number of Oromo youth in the lower rank of the Ethiopian troops. Any conflict between the federal force and OLA means, Oromo youth are killing each other. Please work with the Ethiopian government to restore peace in the region and to avoid another round of suffering to our people.