What do ODP leaders want? Maneuvering to cling to power or responding to challenging and complex issues?
By Soretti Jarrssoo, January 15, 2019
A lot has happened since Dr. Abiy Ahmed came to power and brought some optimism and hope to millions of people living in the Ethiopian empire. He traveled abroad and wooed the diaspora; and he invited exiled opposition political parties to return to the country and work peacefully and compete in a fair and free elections.
He also openly admitted that the government he was part of was terrorizing citizens and that they were torturing and killing political prisoners. However, he presented himself as a reformist and promised fundamental changes in governing and expanding the political space.
Following Dr. Abiy’s invitation, exiled opposition political parties returned home to hero’s welcome by their respective supporters. The Oromo Liberation Front is one of them. On September 15th 2018, an estimated 4-5 million Oromo gathered at Maskal Square to welcome the OLF. It is unforgettable day for the Oromo and one in the history books. That was then, nine months ago.
Then came time for the OLF and the federal government to implement what is agreed upon. However, soon it was in the media that the agreement is falling apart. It appears Dr. Abiy is having a second thought about the OLF and opted to wage a war on the OLF, its supporters and the Oromo people. It was only nine month ago that political prisoners were freed and hope and optimism filled the air. Now nine months later, we are back to square one, reports of arrests and abductions of Oromo by the federal government police are coming out daily. The situation in the country is very concerning for all stakeholders.
My question is what happened to Dr. Abiy Ahmed , and Obbo Lamma Megersa? Where is their leadership? If they were working against EPRDF from within to bring about reform and change, then where is their solution? Did Dr. Abiy invite all political parties to return to the country without any strategy and vision?
To Dr. Abiy and Obbo Lamma:
“Medemer” and “suus” (addiction) of Ethiopiawinet is neither a vision nor a strategy. Are you scared out of your mind when you witnessed the estimated 4 -5 million Oromo at Meskel Square on September 15th , the same way the TPLF was terrified in 1991? September 15 should have been a lesson for you. OLF is Oromuumma (Oromo Nationalism) and Oromo Nationalism is OLF. You cannot separate the OLF and the Oromo people because they are one and the same. So what prevented you from using your political capital to find a peaceful way to move forward, make peace, and implement the agreement? It looks like the Oromo people’s plight for justice and democracy is your blind spot.
No one can deny the important role-played by team Lamma from within the EPRDF to realize the reform but it is undeniable that the Oromo people (qeerroo/qaarree) carried the heavy burden. How can you turn on the people who got your back, only because you fear they may choose another political party over yours? When you speak of fair and free election that is what it means and you must be willing to accept the people’s choice. Anything short, you are not a reformist but a dictator talking reform to buy time to get a good grip on power.
You must understand that the Oromo people are holding ODP, as part of the EPRDF, responsible for what happened to the Oromo people for 27 years. We know that not all ODP members are equally guilty and it is safe to assume some have served their people honorably but there are some known to the people who aided and abetted the enemy. This is OPDO’s (ODP’s) history and cannot be erased. The way forward should have been to make sure those OPDO/ODP members who did the people wrong are removed and replaced in addition to asking the Oromo people for forgiveness.
Dr. Abiy, Dr. Lammaa and the likes of Addisu Arega still have the opportunity to write a new chapter in Oromo/Ethiopian history. But first, you must understand the responsibilities that come with the opportunity. The responsibility is that this is not about you or even about your political party. This is about the people who have been through a lot of trauma for generations. The opportunity is that you can help change the course, from a country that is at the bottom of the world’s rank in all aspects to a place of hope for the younger generation and an example for Africa and other countries with similar experience.
Are you up for the challenge? That requires, not working hard in a deceptive way to cling to power for as long as you can but to transition the country to free and fair election and become honorable citizens if you loose.