The former Aljazeera America editor and founder of online media, Opride.org, Mohammed Ademo has been removed from his position as head of the Oromia Broadcasting Network (OBN) as of last week.
Mohammed Ademo was appointed director of OBN last October and he moved to Ethiopia from the US where he resided for 16 years. Mohammed is replaced by his deputy Zinabu Asrat.
Mohammed told The Reporter that he did not resign adding that the decision was made by the government. “The government has priorities and priorities change. Oromia is not new to moving people around. The person who served the longest in this position is for six month. The leadership of this organization usually has short turning. That does not mean I am not disappointed. We started a lot of work but I did not have enough time to implement them.”
Mohammed said that he has launched a new program for OBN which is based in Adama town. “We launched initiatives but I did not have enough time to implement any of them. You cannot do anything in three months. Especially when you return from the US after 16 years.”
“I was replaced. Because the government wants to go in a different direction,” he added.
Journalists working for OBN were not happy with the decision taken by the Oromia Regional State to remove Mohammed from his post. A senior journalist at OBN told The Reporter that Mohammed was introducing a remarkable reform program in OBN. “He first abolished the evaluation commonly called one to five from the newsroom. He strongly believes in editorial freedom and he was striving to stop the intervention of politicians in the newsroom. The politicians did not like that,” the journalist said.
Mohammed told The Reporter that he did not have a problem with the government but he confirmed that he had a disagreement with some officials of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP). “I had a disagreement with the party office. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is saying that the media should be independent so I am not saying anything new. But I know that some people are not happy with that.”
“Ultimately this not my decision but we have to respect what the government is trying to do. And focus on supporting this reform and supporting this administration to open up the environment so that there will be more room for journalists to do good journalism. To do that I do not have to be here. We will continue the work and we will continue to support Prime Minister Abiy’s administration. It is just that I will be not here,” he said.
The board chairman of OBN, Shimelis Abdissa, who happens to be the Chief of Staff at the Office of the Prime Minister, last week traveled to Adama and held a meeting with the staff of OBN. Shimelis explained that Mohammed was removed from his position because the government wants to offer him for a better assignment. Shimelis was not available for comment.
Sources told The Reporter that Mohammed will be assigned as a diplomat at the Ethiopian Embassy in New York. “Nothing has been decided. I have heard some interest from the government but no decision has been made,” Mohammed told The Reporter.