The Federal Constitution is the source of all the evils as it, among others, introduces ethnically-delineated Regional States in a multi-ethnic society enjoying an age-old and popular cohesion, writes Merhatsidk Mekonnen Abayneh.
Oromia Region is, more or less, half the size of present-day Ethiopia. Likewise, the Oromo is a prestigious community both in terms of its historical foothold in the Ethiopian politik and its numerical significance in proportion with the rest of the counterpart populations constituting the nation as a whole.
At the moment, there abound paradoxically a dozen of political and rebel organizations allegedly operating in the name and on behalf of the Oromo people as if the underlying Oromo interest is that fragmented and isolated in real terms.
Like many compatriots, I do recall having been stunned and extremely puzzled by the joint statement released by five Oromo-oriented political organizations in Addis Ababa on September 25 2018. As read out aloud by Bekele Gerba, deputy chairperson of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), the statement was entitled as the Unity of the Oromo People and the Pressing Political Issues allegedly Affecting the Nation at large.
If my memory doesn’t fail me, the constellation of the giant five includes the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF), The Oromo Liberation Unity Front (OLUF) and the United Oromo Liberation Front (UOLF).
The main thrust of their renewed statement issued in unison largely revolves around what they call as the gradual elimination of the Oromo identity, the ownership of Finfinne by Oromia and the Oromos, the alleged attempt to create a rift between Oromos and Amharas, growing media campaign aimed at the purported propagation and dissemination of slanderous hatred against the Oromos, the untimely call for a transitional government to reverse the ongoing change as well as the fate of the country’s existing ethnic and language based federal arrangement in place.
Of all the interlocking issues raised by the group, the joint statement was vehemently critical of the lead claim that an attempt is being perpetrated to eliminate or exterminate the identity of the Oromo as a people with all its language, cultures and traditions. With that perverted premise, it aggressively alleges that the Oromos are being ruthlessly murdered in broad daylight apart from their properties being dismantled without any protection. According to the assertion of the group, schools, banks, business establishments operating in the name of the Oromos are being burnt to the ground by the irresponsible actions of those anti-Oromo elements.
Though it is a little ambivalent, their blurred and shaky position on the status of Addis Ababa, which they call “Finfinne’, also occupies another pivotal point to comment on. In relation to this thorny issue, it is ridiculous that the perplexed group took us deeper into history with a reminder that the Yeka, Gullele and Gelan communities once used Finfinne, today’s Addis Ababa, as the residential, farming and grazing site. They further claim that these early Oromo communities also depended on the capital to provide them with the faith, belief, political and economic institutions and means of livelihood until they have been allegedly uprooted from their indigenous abodes.
Last, but not least, two of their outstanding complaints deal with an outright rejection for a transitional government by certain political circles amid the ongoing change and maintenance for the country’s existing ethnic and language-based federal arrangement which should, in their strong stance, be kept intact without any alteration. Fascinating in this regard, however, is that the Federal Constitution is the source of all the evils as it, among others, introduces ethnically-delineated Regional States in a multi-ethnic society enjoying an age-old and popular cohesion.
As far as I am concerned, the multitude of issues raised in that joint statement were definitely beyond the operational preserve of the self-appointed political elites claiming to reflect the interests and aspirations of the Oromos with little or no clear mandate at all. Let it be reiterated here that, none of all these political groupings could ever represent the legitimate and genuine interests and aspirations of the vast Oromo people regardless of their far-fetched and misguided rhetoric.
Regardless of their fragmented presence, it is not that easy to determine which one of these competing factions would perhaps promote or in some way advance the underlying interest of the mainstream Oromo constituency in Ethiopia. Worse, ever since the return of the various exiled OLF factions to Ethiopia being let into the country for a rather peaceful political struggle, it appears that a significant portion of the Oromia Region has been deprived of its inherent need for minimal conditions of peace and stability to the detriment of our innocent citizens in that part of the country.
Against all these predicaments, though, it has been quite an amusement for Dawd Ibsa and his blind followers to witness a miserable loss of life, bodily injury, displacement of women and children, property destruction, including a broad daylight robbery of public and private banks by the brutal army of the so-called OLF whichever faction of that front it might be.
Glory and special thanks to the magnanimity and wisdom of the Abba Gadas, there is now some thrilling news of having a peace deal been brokered in Addis Ababa and finalized in the town of Ambo, Oromia Regional State, following the Federal Government operation that has reluctantly been launched to stabilize the volatile region by repelling the attackers which Dawd openly and stubbornly claims to have instructed to defend themselves from what he would like to call ‘any act of provocation’ on the part of the government security forces. If his latest declaration of intent to hand his illegally operating army and armament therewith over to the Abba Gada elders is to be relied upon, it should, no doubt, be applauded by all of us although the old man’s rhetoric still sounds rather hypocritical and untrustworthy. Eventually, of course, it is the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, (PhD) that must be praised and thus entitled to enjoy the real monopoly and use of such force and resources surrendered from the disgruntled rebel group.
As I have somehow indicated the other day on this very paper, Dawd is too frail to make sense of and consequently grasp the objective reality on the ground. On account of his outdated attitude, therefore, wishing him a natural departure with lasting dignity won’t be an abominable sin in the eyes of the Almighty God. Nor are the rest of his rivals tactically constituting the group dedicated to the noble cause of the community in concrete terms. Only the ordinary Oromo masses living in the ‘hotspots’ of the region affected, (with their energetic youth at the center), do comprehend what appeals best to the betterment of their legitimate interests and aspirations.
Ed.’s Note: Merhatsidk Mekonnen Abayneh is a senior expert in law and peace and security studies. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].