THE REAL ENEMY OF FEDERALISM IN ETHIOPIA: OPDO
writtenFarah Ahmed Hirsi
E-mail:Haayirsuber@gmail.com, March 17, 2017
Under previous regimes, Ethiopia was a country ruled by dictators, one after another, running systems of brutal tyranny until the birth of federalism changed everything. This marked the beginning of a new Ethiopia where governments are elected by the people every five years and systems decentralized. The federal system founded on a broad-based constitution approved by the people of Ethiopia, paved the way for the protection of rights individually and collectively and the transformation of Ethiopia from tyranny to democracy and from poverty-stricken image to a fast-growing economy. This led to growing prosperity, thriving development and sharing of economic benefits domestically and the rise of the standing of Ethiopia in the world stage. The illegal uprising in Oromo Region recently, however, were an affront to this and a surprise to all constructively thinking Ethiopians.
Such surprise was real and clearly justified because the politics of reasoning and logic seemed coming to an abrupt end in Ethiopia, only to be replaced by mindless riots and chaos whose central agenda are invisibly set by dark forces, the enemies of federalism. On one side, the stakes were alarmingly high because of the detriment this may potentially do to stability and co-existence in Ethiopia. The same events however were viewed as a source of jubilation for others namely the insane Oromo people’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) and its wicked but weak partner, the so-called Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
Groups like OLF, insane OPDO and Alshabab solely survive on the blood transfusion and sponsorship of Eretria and more recently that of Egypt. Collectively, they are bent on sowing seeds of hatred among Ethiopians using ethnic, cultural and religious differences as a weapon. While diversity is celebrated by most of us as a source of strength, unity and pride, these groups shun it as a weakness in which they can exploit. However such exploitation can never work unless it finds a host that serves as breeding and operational ground as proven by recent experience in Oromo Region.
Militiamen from the OLF and the insane OPDO are historically known for being faint-hearted and are often overcome by hopeless cowardice in the battlefield. Furthermore, they are unable to resist tough struggle and gorilla survival tactics under conditions of prolonged food shortage, thirst and physical exhaustion. This is due to alarming inability to stay without consuming at least injera three times a day. There is an Amhara proverb, which says that because of the dangers of the snake poison, God has denied legs and biologically gave it too much sleep limiting its mobility. Under normal circumstances, it is said that the snake needs 48 hours of sleep to move less than 100 meters.
In the same breadth, when God saw the high numbers and hostility of the OLF, he has given them two weaknesses: crippling addiction to too much food and cowardice. Therefore, the group and others from the same ethnicity naturally can’t move an hour on foot, without eating two times. It is thus understandable that is this cowardice why Individuals like Jawhar are waging a media war from distances like the United States. Because of these and other factors, the OLF has, for many years, left no mark of influence in the social, political and military life in Ethiopia. This reality has however slightly changed with recent illegal Oromo demonstrations following the spread of ethnic radicalization led by the OPDO and OLF central committee members, allowing them to burry their differences. It was this ideological merger of both political groups that triggered the unrest.
In the light of this newly re-polished unity, the OPDO, a member of EPRDF, effectively kicked OLF’s agenda as a ball into the net, nationally stirring chaos and violence in the country. This is exactly what happened and generated the illegal uprising in Oromo Region.
The lead members of the OPDO include Ato Lemma Magarsa, the OPDO chairman who was previously fired from the military on grounds of alleged rape, his ideological father and members of his team.
A bunch of generals, some still serving in the military and General Baja who is discharged for his corruptive practices like selling ammunition to insurgent groups have curved heavy weight roles for themselves in the OPDO structure. Back in the days of the derge, all of them served in the military in various ranks. These dergeremnants, though captured and pardoned, have surprisingly never got clean of the derge ideology and practices. Today, they are busy with technically designing and coordinating the Oromo raids in parts of Ethiopian Somali Region and other Regions.
2. Ethiopian Federalism and its enemies
The establishment of the federalism system in Ethiopia came at the heels of a long struggle of Ethiopia’s peoples led by Tigray people’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Amhara National Democratic movement (ANDM). This was adapted through a democratic constitution that guarantees the protection of individual and collective rights of nation’s various ethnic groups and liberated the country from the perils of dictatorship and crippling oppression. Southern nations and nationalities democratic movement (SNNDM) has played a very distinguished and indispensible role in all of this – both in the struggle and transformation phases. More than 25 years later since its establishment, here we are and Ethiopia is at peace with itself and with the rest of the world. However this comes at a price, earning enemies (e.g. OLF and narrow nationalists from OPDO) for the federalism as rebuke for creating equality and justice for all in a country that has no previous history of both.
Externally, Egypt, Eretria Alshabab and ISIS are the most die-hard enemies of Ethiopia not because we have done anything wrong but because we defend our rights, including the right to use the Blue Nile and that of protecting our borders. Internally, though, there are opposition groups, both armed and otherwise.
Today’s frontrunners of the campaign to destabilize Ethiopia and dismantle the federal system are the Oromo people’s Democratic Party (OPDO) and what increasingly seems like its external wing, the so-called OLF. Both groups are under the same philosophical coaching of the notorious diaspora criminal, Jawhar Mohamed, who has half Egyptian brothers.
Don’t get me wrong here about EPRDF. Despite OPDO’s double face, EPRDF remains the very party behind the historic transformation of our country and cruised Ethiopia into becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The development journey the nation has begun under EPRDF leadership in the early 90s continues to hit new milestones every year and propel Ethiopia towards shared prosperity and through a path of lasting peace and stability.
With the exception of OPDO and OLF political elite, over 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia, of which some 56 are from SNNPR alone, are unequivocally happy about the unprecedented gains made under federalism and therefore firmly determined to defend the constitution. These various ethnic groups, with different cultures, languages and religion, would make no second guess about protecting the greatest national asset, federalism, the very basis of co-existence, unity, tolerance and equality in today’s Ethiopia.
While narrow mindedness and greed for power are driving some opposition groups into the political wilderness of our nation, sickening ethnic radicalism wishing every harm for the federal system has increasingly defined the OLF and OPDO. Philosophically and practically, both are difficult to distinguish nowadays. For example, Junodin Sado who was the president of Oromo Region for ten years has ruled in the name of OPDO but now claims that he did so in the name of OLF. Surprisingly, he says that the current ruling elite of Oromo Region, including Lemma Megarsa and other insane other OPDO leaders knew this well. Imagine this happening in a time when OLF is banned by law as a terrorist group in Ethiopia.
A Somali metaphor can perhaps give more clarity to the whole agenda of insane OPDO and OLF towards the current federalism in Ethiopia. Assume that the federal system is milk-giving animal and all Ethiopians survive by this. What the insane OPDO and OLF are asking for is the intestines and not the milk. This is a too high price we would not pay unless we want the death of the whole system.
The insane OPDO and OLF have an inherent problem with Ethiopian history, mainly shaped by kings/emperors. These included Hero Kings: like kaleb and Yohanes from Tigray and Twedros and Minilik from Amhara. Irrespective of the differences in their individual achievements and times, it is true that they were Ethiopian heroes not for a particular ethnic group but for the whole nation and were proud Ethiopians.
Since the insane OPDO and OLF do not have such historic figures hailing form their ethnicity, all that they want was to have something that matches with such heroic history of Ethiopian kings. After years of internal, they surprisingly discovered a king of their own called called Abagada. They have probably he was an Ethiopian that had fighting credentials with the Italians but nobody knows that for sure. Even a message from the Ethiopian Telecommunications circulated by Lemma recognizes this strange Abagada king as being recognized in far away places like UNISCO Headquarters. I personally laughed hysterically at this idea. This is why they now talk about constructing statues for their traditional chief to raise their stature to that kings/emperors that ruled Ethiopia in the past.
The Abagada cultural system, practiced in Borana, allows each wife the right to have three husbands sharing her bed. This is locally know as Bussa Gonofa in the Geda culture
OLF and the insane OPDO are the only group that signed agreement with Egypt, to jeopardize the millennium Dam. There are reports linking some prominent former OPDO/OLF members to opening of offices in Egypt recently. Gimbot-7 supporters in Amhara withdraw their support after learning an Egyptian involvement in the illegally staged demonstrations in Ethiopia. This is because they don’t want to see Ethiopian becoming the second Syria and Yemen of Africa like the insane OPDO and OLF wish to see.
In the event of eventual collapse of the federalism in Ethiopia, the insane OPDO and OLF should know one thing in advance: Oromo Region will lose territory they have previously snatched from other Regions and will shrink in size and population. The fact that the Oromo speaking population is many does not mean they all belong to Oromo ethnic group and therefore will stay that way. Many of them belong to other ethnic groups but were put in the same basket with Oromos by the federal system. So there is no point is championing for a cause that will hurt the Oromo nation most.
3. The insane OPDO in a negatively shifting political sand
This writing, in no way, intends to unfairly smear the OPDO nor assumes that all members of the organization should be put in the same basket. It is however to shed light on how the OPDO has been transforming itself towards the wrong direction in recent years. This was manifested through getting rid of its good members, allowing radical individuals, lacking health vision, to rise to its helm. The OPDO consists of a blend of various individuals most of who have no any ideological differences with OLF and other terrorist Oromo groups banned by law and has only ill wishes and intensions for this country. Most of the insane OPDO officials have members that are from Takfir, Wahabi, mulim brotherhood and Khawarij sects.
Since the older generation of OPDO leaders that have started with the birth of the federal system stepped down from the party leadership, the driving wheel of the organization has lost broad-minded personalities that were also proud Ethiopians. Over the years, the shifting political sand of the OPDO leadership was characterized by a slow but constant contest between pro-federal members and anti-federal hardliners. This has later ended up in favor of anti-federal individuals, casting most pro-federal group members out of the system. Strategies that were used to achieve this goal included poisoning of party and regional government leaders (e.g. former president Ato Alemayehu Tomsa) and rogue toppling of prominent visionaries like Mukhtar Kedir and Aster without any formal EPRDF style performance evaluation.
It is no secret that the insane top OPDO leaders did not stop fighting the family of the deceased even after his death. The economic situation of the president’s family deteriorated to a state where children lost access to school and family could not pay utility pills. It was only the intervention of the federal government that these family problems were fixed later.
His widow was angered flowing revelations that Mr. Lemma used the photo of her late husband as phone screen saver. She had no way of understanding this, as Lemma himself was the very person who planned all such misery against her family in the first place. Her late husband was killed after he exposed a corruption case involving many OPDO leaders including Lemma Magarsa, his ideological father and others close to him. Most of the top figures exposed by this were illicitly rewarded with big state contracts and reportedly constructed many in Addis Ababa.
With respect to the toppling of Muktar Kedir and Aster Memo, this was a case that would have made headlines in the absence of cover-up. Knowing that the EPRDF leadership will ask for clarification regarding the process followed, the insane OPDO had threated muktar and Aster and coerced them to openly declare they resigned on their own will, preventing the expected EPRDF intervention. These threats originated from both the insane OPDO and OLF. Knowing that they can kill him like his predecessor, he had no option but to do so. This amounts to silent coup in the face of the law. This has happened in the last insane OPDO party conference in Nazareth. This twisting of the president appointment rules caused the delay of announcing of the illegally elected Lemma Magarsa for three months.
When illegal Oromo demonstrations broke out, houses were burnt to ashes but were only owned by the constructively, pro-federal members of the OPDO and those who were killed belonged to the same group. There are important evidence indicating that no assistance was given to these victims until now by Lemma and his administration. Through these treacherous tactics and internal conspiracies, staunch zealots and warlords like Lemma Magarsa have ended ascending to the top, ready to prey on federalism and the Ethiopian constitution.
This new generation of insane OPDO leaders is distinguished from those in the past by few but important ideological differences. First, they mostly consist of ethno-centered extremists devoid of any pride in being Ethiopian. You ask them who they are in any part of the world and they would tell you that they are Oromos and nothing else. All other ethnicities in Ethiopia would surely not think twice about their pride in being Ethiopians. This is why the insane OPDO is paying the media expenses running Jawhar’s Oromiya media network in the name of government and this is also why Lemma is rewarding huge contracts to very close relatives of Jawhar and the relatives of other OLF leaders. One of the things that EPRDF is not right about is that, despite the federal system allowing the existence of regional states, Oromo was allowed to have a different name, which is Oromia whereas other Regions are named as Tigray Region, Amhara Region, Afar Region, Somali Region and So on. This needs to be answered in the light of existing rules of federalism.
The plan to secure the top job was jointly pushed by the insane OPDO, OLF and other opposition individuals – The unrest was aimed to achieve a number of things securing the premier job, defense ministry and the presidency of the `oromo regional state. They succeeded in number of things including securing the regional presidency and escaping from prosecution. They did not secure the defence mainly because the generals hailing from the insane OPDO and OLF ethnicity originally rooted from the derge. Thinking that the illegal demonstrations have succeeded, the insane OPDO leadership could not ever agree on their designate for prime minster, splitting themselves between two candidates.
Secondly, most of them behave like warlords and are of the view that throwing their weight about would solve problems with neighbors and the federal government. A Case in point now remains the Somali Region in which they are making deep incursions on daily basis and fighting in places they have never seen before. Assessing the locations of the fighting remains a sufficient proof that would put the insane OPDO on the offensive and the Somalis pastoralists on the defensive. This new political elite at the helm of Oromo Region is now implementing an agenda to destroy federalism. Civilized dialogue and approach is not the way for them. In the face of this group, any consideration for rights beyond those of OPDO and OLF amounts to a crime.
Thirdly, they are not convinced that the federal system has done any good for them despite plenty of evidences pointing otherwise. They see it as a tool of oppression, undermining the insane OPDO and OLF agenda in Ethiopia. In fact, if federalism collapses, Oromos would be those who suffer most for it. This is due to the fact that the Oromos speaking are many but the real ethnic Oromos are not. Because of the federal system, many non-Oromos who are Oromo speaking were forced by the system to be a part of Oromiya Region without their consent. This includes the Wata, Karrayu, Gujji, Gabra and Xarla ethnic groups. These ethnic groups are estimated to have a population of 15 million or more. This will cause a disintegration of Oromo Region, leading to loss of many Ethnic groups who are a part of Oromo Region today.
4. Current Somali leadership elite
President Abdi Mohamud Omar is a national political figure that undoubtedly left his mark in the history books of the nation. Through his pragmatic leadership style, vision and courage, he made groundbreaking achievements and set milestones in development, good governance, rule of law, public relations and defeating Alshabab, Takfir, Khawarij and Muslim brotherhood militants as well as ONLF terrorists.
From the perspective of the insane OPDO/OLF, the biggest blow to OLF operations and existence in Ethiopia was solely attributed to one thing: cutting the supply lines that used to bring in ammunition and trained militiamen from Eretria and Kenya through the Somali regional state. This made the insane OPDO, OLF and other terrorist cadres at all levels furious as they equated it to weakening the political leverage of the insane OPDO and OLF in Ethiopia. The second point that angered the Oromo political elite from OLF and the insane OPDO was the strong defence that Ethiopian Somali state leadership and people have staged both inside and outside the country in response to the illegal Oromo demonstrations driven by Egypt and Eretria and national and international terrorist groups.
He transformed the Somali regional state of Ethiopia through stabilizing peace and profoundly changing the development landscape in ways and at a speed never seen before by our people. He defended federalism with his whole heart and unwavering belief of the diversity and equality of all Ethiopians and ethnic groups.
The Somali regional state was a safe haven for terrorists like ONLF, Al-Etihad, Alshabab and others just few years back. However, he eventually reversed this to make it one of the most secure and stable areas in the country. He is also the only regional president who openly talked about the devastating political unrest of the insane OPDO/OLF whereas OPDO elements like Lemma systematically pushed the illegal demonstrations from behind. Mr. Lemma Magarsa and his ideological affiliates strongly believe that the top jobs they secured regionally and federally during the riots are incentives they gained through instigating the illegal uprising. Thus, the only plan they have is to continue but is currently constrained by the emergency. This insane OPDO group led by Mr, Lemma Magarsa and those close to him was also instrumental in spreading poisonous hatred against the Tigray ethnicity.
President Abdi promoted the role of women in all aspects of the society, increasing their political representation at parliamentary levels to almost half. He ensured equality between all religions and has done justice for all ethnic groups. So which of the two leadership styles is in favor of ethnic militancy and narrow nationalism?
The Somali Region president fought against spreading the bad ideology of terrorist groups, domestically introducing sweeping reforms and can undoubtedly qualify for noble peace price internationally.
When Mr Lemma rose to the helm of Oromo politics, his first move was to sack all those known for their pro-federalism thinking. He is accused by many in his administration and in the broader Oromo ethnicity as self-centered figure whose thinking falls short of anything but running OLF militiamen. So which of the two qualifies for a visionary leader and a peaceful transformer?
5. Drivers of the land conflict between Oromo and Somali Regions
The overall campaign to destabilize Ethiopia by groups like Alshabab and OLF internally supported by the insane OPDO has met a dead end partly because of the efforts of the Ethiopian federal police, and the Ethiopian Somali people to protect the federal system. This has angered the insane OPDO leadership and its affiliate, OLF, prompting them to launch a tit-for-tat like raids across the border into Somali Region. The timing of the raids is an important indicator of this.
Imposing the emergency situation has been a major hurdle to sustaining illegal demonstrations in the face of heavy police and troop development in many parts of Oromo Region. So the insane OPDO had to do something to remove security forces from Oromo Region. This was the very thinking that staged Oromo raids on pastoral communities as a pretext to move troops to Somali Region. This was done to make the re-ignition of riots cheap and easy.
This is a joint and insane OPDO-OLF and Jawhar operation drawing support from all political groups belonging to same ethnicity. The raids are architected by the radical militants of OLF led by Jawhar and finely executed under the leadership of the insane OPDO. One thing that not many Ethiopians know about Jawhar, the notorious ideological father of the Oromo political elite in the diaspora is that he has half Egyptian brothers.
The insane OPDO central committee elements have never blamed Jawhar and OLF on anything and there reasons to think that the will do so in the future. They never openly protested against Eretria and Egypt as well. This is not a missed agenda by the insane OPDO members but silence is their official response. In the same way, the insane OPDO has not talked about the emergence of many ISIS members in Asmatafari town. While they have no interest in responding to threats from various sources against Ethiopia, the Oromo regional government communication head, Ato Addisu, has been ordered by Lemma and his ideological father to officially respond to a mere article written in the web page: aiga forum.com. As has been quoted from Addisu himself, he was forced to make such response by the top members of the insane OPDO leadership against his will.
The Takfiri Islamic sect, a radical group that has links with militant actors in the Horn and beyond, also mushroomed in most parts of Oromia but received no attention from Lemma and his cronies. Schools to radicalize children and youth are built in many major urban centers in the Region but with little notice from the administration. Given this soft insane OPDO attitude and tendency to harbor terrorists, Oromo kilil my turn itself into the Abbottabad of Ethiopia. Metaphorically, if Osama bin Laden would have been given the choice of living in Ethiopia, the only safe haven for him could have been the Oromo regional state, already a safe haven for OLF, Wehabis and Takfiri groups.
The only Region that replicated the Tahrir square riots of Muslim brotherhood spring is the Oromo regional state, with the sole purpose of bringing down Ethiopia’s shared federal system.
In front of live TV cameras of the Oromo Television network and in a style that shocked Ethiopia, the Oromo regional lawmakers have, in their conference in Nazareth, openly presented their hostility to Ethiopian nationalities in Somali, Afar, Tigray, Benshangul, Gambela, SNNPR and others. In the end, the conference of lawmakers was concluded with a declaration of war on Somali Region but really with no any sense of shame. In the same event, many have shamefully bragged about the civilian killings they have already caused in some parts of the Somali Region. Implementing the action-points from the lawmakers meeting, the number of raids has quadrupled immediately next day.
Many Oromo groups have changed their names under previous regimes, risking the loss of their lineage identity while Ethiopian Somalis have never done so under any pressure. Instead of caving to the demand of the derge, they have fought hard against it. So I am asking OPDO and OLF leaders this: How on earth can OPDO and OLF think that they can slice away Ethiopian Somali Territory?
The OPDO and OLF leadership need to understand that Fadis, Hirna, Sanwayna, Bardode, Casabod, Gindid, midhaga (midho–ged), Bared (Bardalay) and Asma tafari were originally owned by Ethiopian Somalis and need to return to our hands one day. These areas have been taken by force and not through consent with the Ethiopian Somalis.
My message to the Ethiopian Somalis is to say this: every human being needs peace for his own survival. Conflict causing bloodshed is not new to you, as it has defined most of your lives in the past. You surely more peace loving than most people now because you are fed up with conflict and fighting and because you know, more than anyone else, the destruction and desolation that comes with. However, Oromo lawmakers have declared war on you and therefore a conflict is surely imposed on you. So defend yourselves once you are attached in your homes and ensure that your constitutional right for self-defense is protected.
6. Validity of referendum and the way forward
A referendum has to fulfill certain criteria to produce valid results and qualify for mutual acceptance. This starts with a voting process agreed by all concerned and which ensures equal and unhindered access to polling stations and resources by all parties. The so-called referendum held in the border between Somali and Oromo Regions lacked everything to qualify for this.
To begin with, the process was full of irregularities and deviations from the prescribed guidelines. For example, out of the 420 kebeles the sham referendum took place, the vote boxes of 250 of them were found already filled by the insane OPDO/OLF before they were opened for public. The Boxes were not even filled in the same locations but brought from elsewhere. This was done in the broad day light under the backing of insane OPDO/OLF militia, tightly controlling everywhere on their own. In another 50 kebeles, the victory margin reported by the insane OPDO/OLF side ranged from 3 to 10 votes, an outcome not much different from other areas.
In many others, the process was carefully calibrated to ensure a systematic exclusion of the Somalis. The funniest thing in the process was the subsequent forcing of Somali admin representatives to sign results of the abused and manipulated process as valid by the same militia observers, triggering an outrage among the Somalis. Later, the rejection from the Somali Region authorities has not gathered steam as the insane OPDO leadership has undermined local grievances to protect illegitimate referendum gains, using the weight of EPRDF hat.
Secondly, the security conditions that prevailed in most of contested areas were too risky, limiting the voting capacity of Somali communities. Daily killings by terror groups in the streets of main towns has forced most people to stay indoors during the voting hours of the referendum.
Given such serious breaches of voting rules, which were systematically staged across most voting areas at the time, there is no way results could have been valid from a legal pint of view.
7. Poor foresight surrounded the demonstrations
Recent Oromo demonstrations played out in the streets of many cities inherently in ethnic nature, failing to pursue an inclusive political agenda. All we have learned from this was misguided anger of youth directed at other Ethiopian ethnic groups, particularly Tigray. This can’t be in any sense described as a sound and strategic vehicle to address grievances against the federal government.
How can the targeting of specific ethnic groups and astray anger be explained within the context of these illegal demonstrations? To me, the answer lies in referring to the story of prophet Mosas (May peace be upon him) where he protected someone from an attacker one day and did the same in another, but later found himself exposed and accused of killing people recklessly by the same man he protected. Somali people have a saying that contextually fits this story and it goes on like this: Don’t be in the habit of helping nor seeking help from fools, as that will only backfire on you in the end.
TPLF and ANDM have led the struggle that liberated the country from oppression and injustices done to various ethicizes in Ethiopia under previous regimes. This liberation had many facets, including political, economic, social and cultural aspects.
The derge has unbearably enslaved the constructive earlier OPDO and the militant OLF group more than other groups to the extent that they wrote this in the constitution – Do not kill a human even if they are Galla/Qotti groups which they mean ‘do not kill anyone even if he/she is Oromo. From this, we understand the gruesome oppression the Oromos have been subjected to as if they sub-human.
Even traditional names like Galla and Qotti to mean the ‘Oromo’ ethnic group in earlier times, were left behind under federalism. So, the insane OPDO and OLF paid back TPLF and ANDM not with gratitude as the case should have been but with attacks and cheaply smearing of their names as oppressors.
Ethiopia has been known in the Islamic history as the country of peace-loving and just ruler. This is learned from the story of prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) followers who migrated to Ethiopia in the sixth century. The Ethiopian king at the time, Ahmed Najashi, offered profound hospitality to the migrants but it was his just and fair treatment of the followers in the face of hostile Arab tribesmen from quraish that saved the day. This has earned praise and a prayer from the Prophet (PBUM) and Ethiopia is unlikely to fall into the doomsday wishes, as OLF and insane OPDO elements would like it to be. So basically this means that both groups need to spare their breath and energy from igniting a crisis that may consume themselves and others but will never change the course of the country in the end.
The derge has abused all the rights of Ethiopians but the question remains who had rejected the yoke of oppression manifested by killing, rape, looting and loss of political and developmental rights? Was the EPRDF struggle (TPLF/ANDM) started with Lemma Magarsa and his ideological affiliates or their organizations OPDO/OLF or the insane OPDO generals who were captured from the derge? Let me leave the answer to Mr. Lemma and his supporters from the insane OPDO.
The EPRDF struggle that produced victory was started by over 11 youth from Tigray in Dedebit. These political leaders complemented by two key military figures made history in the liberation struggle. The struggle that started with such few-numbered people, mobilized all the people of Tigray, guided them politically, militarily through good public relations and earned their hearts and trust. Likewise, officials from ANDM have participated the struggle decisively under the leadership of ANDM prominent leaders.
This struggle has caused the demise of the derge and produced fruitful results – federalism and strong constitution. So more than 200,000 from Tigray and Amhara each have died to liberate the Oromo from their early bad name given to them by former regimes (i.e. Galla and Qotti). This deserves OLF, OPDO, Jowhar and others’ respect to TPLF and not insults. It is known that the OPDO was established after 1983 EC with the military officials captured from the derge and OLF.
On the other hand, the OLF and the insane OPDO strongly believe that their existence is contingent upon the existence of conflict between TPLF and ANDM. So whenever a conflict emerges between the two, the OPDO and its militant wing try to exploit and exaggerate the problem using friends on both sides.
A real and serious clash between TPLF and ANDM can cause a high impact and destructive shockwaves that may virtually threaten the existence of Ethiopia. This would be so as they are the stability pillars and field battle heroes in the liberation struggle. OPDO has joined the liberation fight in the 11th hour (Ginbot 25 1983 E.C.) and therefore has little to call influence. While TPLF has lost more than 200,000 people through injuries and deaths during the struggle, the OPDO hasn’t sacrificed anything even a mere goat. So it is unfortunate that OPDO leaders fail to appreciate all this and align their agenda in that regard. So my message to OPDO and OLF leaders is this: if your intention is to spill blood for nothing as it seems, you are already doing that in Somali Region in the name of territorial expansion – isn’t this enough? So there is no point in holding the federal system as a hostage to you, thereby affecting everyone and derailing progress forward.
According to viable sources of information, the insane OPDO and OLF have relations with Egypt. Most of the investment in Oromia Region, including industrial zones, is in the hands of Egyptians companies. It was also revealed that the Egyptian individuals who were funning the flames of the illegal demonstrates have projects in Oromo Region. This indicates the ominous connection between the two sides.
The management of foreign affairs of Ethiopia was previously in the hands of TPLF and SNNDM, creating a great image for Ethiopia domestically and internationally. When the insane OPDO moved into the steering wheel of the foreign affairs ministry, things have fallen a part, greatly risking the loss of diplomatic assets Ethiopia has in the Horn and beyond. For example, South Sudan and Sudan which had historic and strategic ties with Ethiopia, were left out in the cold by the new leadership from OPDO/OLF. This empowered countries like Egypt, which are sworn enemies of Ethiopia’s development and growth. The closeness of such relations can be learned from the way the current foreign minster of Ethiopia and the Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia greet each other.
All these pitfalls have triggered an intervention to rescue these diplomatic relationships, which were nearly lost to Egypt. The policy of Egypt has become emboldened since the insane OPDO took the helm of foreign affairs. The president of Egypt is making frantic efforts to secure strong alliance from countries surrounding Ethiopia. We will talk about this in a detailed manner in an upcoming article that will be presented evidences to strengthen this case).
Protection of federalism in Ethiopia requires the support and persistence of all ethnic groups, with a lead role from Tigray, Amhara and Southern peoples. Therefore, I strongly urge these three Regions to sustain harmony among themselves and with the rest of Ethiopia and continue propelling this nation forward and towards never ceasing prosperity. The unity of all Ethiopian peoples and that of EPRDF leadership are critically important for the continuation of thriving federalism.
Under the close supervision of EPRDF members, the political spirit of the insane OPDO needs hospitalization. This has to take the form of implementing rigorous reforms that cleanse the organization of its anti-federalism ideology and unhealthy sentiments towards other ethnic groups. The Oromo political elite needs to bravely face existing realities and acknowledge it has nothing to gain from the collapse of the federal system. The group has to test waters and do some soul searching before taking a dive into aimless demonstrations that would hurt Oromos most. The OPDO should warn the Oromo people against jumping into a political wagon they don’t know its destination and who is in the driving seat like the last demonstrations. To have your place in Ethiopia in the future starts with and is contingent upon constructive and inclusive thinking, giving space to all Ethiopians.
The OPDO needs to strive for what is best for everyone: living in peace with its neighbors and abandoning belligerent tendencies that are sowing the seeds of conflict and providing bedrock for clashes with other Regions. In the end, OPDO can’t make Oromo kililgreater by snatching territory from other Regions, smearing the image of liberation leaders and self-wish thinking to replace our common name ‘Ethiopia’ with Oromo Region. Ethiopia is bigger than Oromo nationality and is owned by and sufficient for all nationalities. This and the fact that we are only one family of various nations and nationalities have to be the basis of our collective survival and co-existence as Ethiopians and tolerance towards each other.
The Ethiopian Somali people have a great pride in the federal constitution and in Ethiopianism and they will defend this at any cost.
Finally, my warning to all Ethiopians is this: Ethiopia is our nation that survived difficulties in the past. No matter where we go from here; one thing we can never afford is to destroy the very foundation of our collective survival, unity and peaceful co-existence – Federalism. Collapse of the federal system will surely open the floodgates to irreversible desolation and a dark chapter in Ethiopian history.
Long live Ethiopia, long live federalism
Farah Ahmed Hirsi
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article only represent the views of the author and not that of anyone else