1992 in 2020: The Dismantling of the OLF by a Political Engineer
By Leencoo Gidira, Sept 14, 2020
The Oromo Liberation Front was founded in 1974 to end the colonial oppression imposed on the Oromo people by the Amhara and enable them exercise their right to self-determination. Unfortunately, the front has encountered series of ups and downs. On the one hand, it had to fight against the enemy armed to its teeth. On the other hand, it had to deal with internal saboteurs (traitors) who caused more harm to the cause than the enemy could alone. These saboteurs paralyzed the front’s effectiveness by threatening the unity of the front and also acting as agents for the enemy. Consequently, even with full support of its people, the OLF was unable to lead the Oromo to full independence. Treason and sabotage are threatening the fate of the OLF today more than at any time in its history.
In June 1991, I was one of the Oromo’s who lined up along the main street in Finfinnee to welcome the delegation of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) led by Lencho Lata. In his address to the crowd, Lencho said, “we came to claim our land which Minilik took by force. If this does not work out, we will go back to the jungle – Lafa keenya Minilik nurraa fudhate falmachuu dhufne. Yoo ta’uu baate bosonatti deebina. (The statement is not quoted verbatim, but this is exactly what he said.) Lencho led the OLF delegation in the July Conference and became the front’s point man until it was forced out of the Transitional Government in June 1992. This short participation in the Transitional Government, apparently representing the OLF, brought Lencho to closer relationship with Meles Zenawi, the leader of the Tigre People’s Liberation Front – TPLF, who was president of the Transitional Government. By getting closer to Meles, Lencho shaped his own political future that, after twenty-six years, landed him in Menilek’s palace under Minilik’s great grand-son, Abiy Ahmed. After leaving the Transitional Government, Lencho moved to Canada from where he tirelessly engaged in dissecting the OLF into pieces. In 1998, he succeeded in sucking from behind the then Secretary General, Galaasaa Dilbo, whom he replaced by the current OLF chairman, Daawud Ibsaa. He did not stop with that and continued with his endless act of protozoa-like multiplication of the OLF. In 2005, he split from Daawud’s OLF and created what he called Oromo Democratic Forum, then Jijirama, then THIS, then THAT, and … and finally the Oromo Democratic Front which he happily handed to Abiy Ahmad – a gift to Comrade Napoleon.
The other OLF wing called Qaama Cehumsa continued under Galaasaa Dilbo. This wing arguably defended the original program that the front adopted when it was founded in 1974. Although it included such high caliber and honest people like Obbo Ibsaa Guutamaa, this wing went into obscurity.
Leencho continued with his intrigues and unashamedly turned the OLF-Shane (Daawud) and OLF-QC (Galaasaa) against one another to the extent of taking each other to court in the United States. He openly asked Meles Zenawi to allow him to return but Meles demanded to return in the name of OLF not in the name the ODF. In 2017, without getting permission, he flew to Ethiopia with members of his group but was declared persona non grata (ofiin dhufiin marcumni hin ga’hu) in and returned to Norway with shame. A member of his team, Lencho Bati, is currently Abiy Amhed’s adviser while and the rest are in hiding because of shame.
Of the three OLF groups, Daawud’s Shanee continued to reverberate in the hearts of millions of Oromos because it kept hope alive. Being in Asmara, at least it found a listening ear from Isayas Afaworki who wanted to use them against his archenemy, Meles Zenawi. Isayas allowed Daawd to train some combatants on Eritrea’s ground. With the diminishing influence of Lencho, this group quickly moved back to the original platform of the organization which the vast majority of the Oromo support. Lencho, did not like the growing popularity of the Daawud group and arrived early in Finfinnee as soon as Minilik’s grandson assumed the premiership. To his disappointment, he did not get a hero’s welcome because the Oromo people already knew the sabotages he has been doing to the Oromo struggle. He and his team quickly joined the Abiy camp. Lencho Bati and Dima Nago became Abiy’s advisors whose names the prime minister is proud of mentioning publicly as exemplary members of opposition parties working with him. In 2019, Lencho’s ODF openly declared joining the OPDO.
By working closely with Meles, Lencho started the process of splitting the OLF which he did in 1998. By working closely with Abiy in 2018, Lencho started to finish what he started twenty-six years ago. Lencho knew that the Oromo people rejected him because of his malicious acts on the OLF and cooperation with the enemy. His hopelessness and total rejection became a reality when six million Oromos marched on Finfinnee to welcome Daawud in September 2018. Lencho then went back to his 1998 workbook when he split the OLF into two and he began to apply the same to the OLF currently chaired by Daawud. That is why we are back to ground zero in our struggle that the OLF has been leading since 1974. Shame on those OLF leaders who were in Asmara for twenty years to finally come to this point. You did not have to go to Asmara to join the Ethiopian government. You did not have to waste your time. This also applies to Lencho and his group who now work for the Ethiopian government. You also wasted your thirty-some years; and, please understand that your brother did not die to enable you what you do now. Your brother died for all Oromos. Please, don’t swear in the name of your martyred brother. For Lencho Lata, 2018 is his 1992 and 2020 is his 1998.
What should be done
- TO THE SABOTEURS: Those who are being advised by Lencho to overthrow Daawud Ibsaa should know that the Oromo struggle for complete independence will continue. As Lencho’s (now your godfather) protozoazation of OLF did not stop the struggle before, your sabotage and betrayal will rather solidify our determination to move forward.
- TO OUR QEERROO: You toppled the TPLF in 2018 when the OLF was not here. You have to continue the struggle and the journey to victory without getting distracted by the act of these saboteurs.
- JAAL DAAWUD IBSAA: No one is perfect. Stay calm, no matter what happens. You have to be proud of yourself for rescuing our “Golden Stool” and saving it from barrage of attacks from Lencho Lata. You saved the Oromo flag, brought it back and gave it back to the owners, the Oromo people who will take care of it. You took a single alaabaa with you when you left and, because of you, there are forty million alaabaas in the homes of the Oromo today. You kept the struggle alive and that is how history will remember you.
- TO JAAL MARRO AND JAAL GOLICHAA DHEENGEE: Now is the time for you to take a decisive and historic step. Take over the OLF and declare that YOU ARE THE OLF. If you don’t do this, Abiy Ahmad will declare the destruction of the OLF – a front that has been in existence since 1974. Please keep in mind that the destruction of the OLF is one of the assignments the Amhara gave to their fellow Nafxanya, Abiy.
- TO THE OROMO PEOPLE: You should keep in mind that this is another sabotage in a series of many in many years and you should not be demoralized by the news of Lencho’s dismantling of Shane. Lencho has proved in hundreds of occasions that he is not on your side. Anyone who works with Abiy Ahmad is Abiy Ahmad himself. And you know what Abiy Ahmad is doing to the Oromo people. He killed more Oromos in his two-year tenure than TPLF in its twenty-seven years and don’t forget that Lencho is Abyis’ advisor in all this. Now, more than ever, you know your enemy.
Victory to the Oromo People
We shall Overcome this!