Is Abiy Ahmed's ODP Good Enough to Promote Freedom and Democracy in Ethiopia?*
No question that the already envisioned goal of Oromo liberation movement can be simply put as national self-determination, including and up to national independence (only Oromia), or up to union of free peoples (federal Union) or up to regional integration (only Ethiopia). Based on this general objective of the Oromo people, there are nowadays different liberation fronts and political parties operating in the name of Oromo. Even though I believe that one accommodative and inclusive liberation organization is more effective, necessary and even imperative for our struggle towards freedom and sovereignty (type of sovereignty being one of the three: only Oromia, federal Union or only Ethiopia), the currently active different factions and groups of the OLF, and other forces can be empowered separately and encouraged to work together in order to lead us in unison towards our intended destiny.
Thanks to Oromo nationalist heroines and heroes, who paid great sacrifice to achieve what we do have now in hand, Oromo liberation movement is already at irreversible level. Now we do see almost all Oromo nationals being proud of our identity; especially, the new generation is conscious enough about necessity of our unconditional freedom from the currently tormenting TPLF oppressors. The struggle for freedom from this occupying force is going on in different forms. The only difference we do observe among different Oromo nationalists is based on diverse views regarding the type of sovereignty we want to realize after achieving freedom: independent Oromia (only Oromia) or union of free nations in Ethiopia (federal Union) or integrated Ethiopia (only Ethiopia). Yet, these three types of sovereignty are not exclusive to each other, but achieving the first can be good prelude to come to the second, and then to move further to the third or vice versa. Common denominator for the three is freedom from fascism (power in Tulluu Daalatti)!
Unfortunately, such a stepwise progress of our liberation movement is now inhibited because of real lack of cooperation and coordination among and between the different Oromo political groups. Our beloved liberation front – the OLF – is already divided into different factions based on stressing tendency of the factions towards their chosen single type of sovereignty over the others, despite their common denominator – Oromo freedom. These different factions and groups are wasting most of our talent, resource and time fighting each other, instead of solving our conflict with the Oromo way of discussion (ilaa fi ilaame). Of course, such discord among Oromo liberation camp weakens the necessary strength we need for the struggle. Additionally, Oromo’s archenemy, TPLF, also works day and night to make sure that Oromo liberators be so divided, and Oromo national liberation bloc stay as weak as possible.
Some genuine Oromo nationalists did recognize this weak status quo of our liberation camp and started to look for an alternative way of doing liberation business. They worked hard to unify the existing different factions and groups so that we could have one relatively stronger and more efficient liberation front. Despite the efforts, particularly in spite of the hitherto measures taken to re-unify the OLF, which was unsuccessful, even we could observe and register further fragmentization of the vanguard organization. At this time of our desperation, some nationals still try to find a way out of this quagmire.
One of the forwarded solutions was the now functioning #Team Lemma (ODP = Oromo Democrtatic Party, different from the previous OPDO as slave of TPLF). According to decision of this party, it already issued a call for all concerned Oromo nationals to start debate and discussion on current problem of Oromo people, and on the way how to come up with optimal solution. The different points raised in the statement are crucially important, and indeed it was an inviting message as well as a persuasive assertion.
For some known and unknown reasons, there were certain opposing voices in the Oromo community and in the cyber world against this Democratic Party. Most of the reasons given are based on the controversial prominent Oromo personalities, who are leading the formation of the party. Even one of the OLF factions, which I do consider as the main stream liberation front, expressed its concern regarding this move of some Oromo nationals. The main question raised was whether the ongoing discussion benefits or penalizes the already well established part of Oromo liberation struggle. I think the concern is legitimate and needs to be addressed, or must be considered by those who organized the engagement and by those who lead the discussion. No seasoned Oromo nationalist with sound mind does accept any move which can weaken our present power position. Any move towards disregarding the OLF and disarming OLA/WBO is surely doomed to fail.
Yet, we have to be open-minded and look at possible opportunity Honig on in ODP. It can be right move to solve our national problem and constructive means to bring Oromo nationals together. It may be the means to consolidate and empower the existing OLF and OLA by bringing a lot of non-organized Oromo nationals under one umbrella. I encourage the participants to move from the present discussion of involving only Oromo individuals to dialogue among Oromo institutions and organizations, especially by inviting the different factions and groups of Oromo liberation movement to join the call.
One of the reasons raised to oppose the ongoing call is the allegation saying that ODP rejects the goal of an ‘independent Oromia’ in favor of supporting the union of free peoples. Thus, the Democratic Party and its leaders are accused as betrayers, capitulationists, collaborators, defeatists, Ethiopianists, foes, Gobanas, revisionists, etc. Interestingly, we observe a double-standard regarding such labellings. For certain criticizers, the members and supporters of ODP were Ethiopianists, while those within the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) are not; or the vice versa is true, despite the fact that both groups were said to prefer union to independence. An important question to be answered here should be: are the leaders and partakers of this Democratic Party really Ethiopianists in a negative sense? To answer this basic question, we need to define two terms, Ethiopia and Ethiopianist, operationally.
The name Ethiopia seems to be defined in two ways according to Oromo nationalists involved in the hot discussion regarding the merit and demerit of the Democratic Party. One group of Oromo nationalists defines Ethiopia as the name of a territory, and thus being Ethiopianist is not as such a problem as long as political conviction of the concerned nationals promotes the goal of ‘free Oromia within a union.’ The other group of Oromo nationalists defines Ethiopia as system of colonization or system of domination, and this group demonizes those Oromo nationals taking part in entertaining Ethiopia as keepers of this system. Here again, another further question to be answered can be: are the leaders and participants of Democratic Party really Ethioianists in a sense of one definition or in terms of both definitions?
I personally think that these pro-union Oromo nationalists are not necessarily die-hard keepers of the domination system, but they are simply in favor of a possible union of free peoples in federal arrangement. As long as they believe in Oromo freedom and Oromia's self-rule, be it within a union or without a union, they are part and parcel of Oromo liberation movement. Those who do believe in an independent Oromia can compete with these unionists when the time for referendum comes, but trying to demonize the unionists as “Ethiopianists” in a sense of keeping the system of colonization is, simply put, unfair. I just want to suggest for the pro-independence Oromo forces to have additionally our own dialogue forum among the different fragmentalized factions and groups, which want to promote independence. Then, there can be a possibility for necessary cooperation, in the future, between such purely pro-independence forum and thepro-union Democratic Party.
In case pro-independence and pro-union forces will have their separate dialogue forums as suggested here, yet unity for freedom between the two, having freedom as their common denominator, is mandatory, if we really want to get rid of TPLF fascists and racists. That is why Oromo people tried to persuade our national liberation organizations to build an imperative unity of Oromo liberation forces. Unfortunately, now it seems that such structural unity is almost impossible. Thus, we are demanding, as plan-B, ‘group of 11’ within one team of Oromo liberation movement, suggesting the importance of networking eleven organizations to struggle in unison against the archenemy. We mean by this: our different factions and groups of Oromo liberation movement can be as many as eleven if necessary, but they should learn to play harmoniously together just like eleven individuals in a soccer team do and they have to try to defeat the Abyssinian team of colonization and oppression.
It is only through such unity or alliance of Oromo liberation movement groups in one national team, that we can come to victory. Oromo people seem to have already put the solution for our problem in a short saying: “walii galan, alaa galan” (united, we stand). For the Oromo as bigger collective (as a nation) to be free, there is no alternative to this unity of purpose, if we seriously want to come out of the existing oppression. That is the main reason for the necessity of an imperative dialogue among different Oromo individuals and institutions. Thus, I do see no compelling reason to oppose any sort of dialogue blindly in general, and to vilify ODP in particular. Thus #Team Lemma's call for working with all Oromo organizations to promote Oromo interest should be supported and welcomed. I see that, at the moment, there is no forum with an intention to prohibit our move to bilisummaa (freedom). In general, any sort of coming together of Oromo liberation groups need to be encouraged, because such unity of purpose is necessary for success.
Last, but not least, there are two universal facts, which we as a nation have to recognize, accept and realize: ‘unity is strength’ and ‘might is right.’ Simply put, there is no national right for Oromo without empowering the people in order to have might or strength. One way of strengthening Oromo nation is by fostering unity of purpose among all the fragmented political groups. I think the already started call from ODP of Abiy Ahmed can help this be materialized. Despite the concerns and fears expressed up to now, let’s go on and make constructive dialogue. As one Oromo proverb describes: ‘dubbii baha hin dhowwan, galma dhorku malee’ = it is not good to hinder beginning of any discussion, but important is to influence its outcome. Whether the already started move of ODP is so bad to prohibit or good enough to promote freedom and democracy in Oromia/Ethiopia will be seen in the future process. It is up to us, Oromo nationalists, to determine whether we can use the well performing ODP as an instrument either for negative prohibition or for positive promotion of our national purpose to achieve freedom. During our efforts to promote Oromo cause, may Waaqa help us utilize the Democratic Party in order to promote, but not to prohibit freedom and democracy in Ethiopia!
Ethiopian News, Current Affairs and Opinion Forum
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It is not about his being good enough,it is about Ethiopian heroes behind this,people determind for a real change,you and me are called too.zem belen telek sew anmsel.Think of the young of the 1960s,ersum ansetoachewal,we will take only the good and march forewards.I can't write good English like you but I am positive.Nagati