by Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni
I speed-read the press statement of the much-hyped OPDO central committee meeting and found it very much muddled and unclear and lacking much-needed focus at this critical time in our country’s history. My expectations were not that high, but I found the press statement very much wanting and lacking critical strategic policy directions.
1. OPDOs central committee should have taken a clear position to end the unequal status of EPRDF member parties by democratizing the EPRDF or decide to dismantle it if democratizing it is not feasible. OPDO should have taken a lead role in order to preserve its own interests and gain trust from the Oromo public by directly opposing the current practice that gives TPLF veto power in the affairs of the organization and Ethiopian national interest issues, based on civil war time status of the TPLF, instead of restructuring the EPRDF based on population, membership and national resources base of each respective member parties.
2. OPDO CC should have taken a clear decision in shifting national decision and policy-making power from the unelected and unrepresentative Executive Committee of the EPRDF to the existing constitutional structure by trying to empower the so-called parliament, however ineffective it is, by advocating for democratic representation and transparency of elected officials to their respective constituents. OPDO should have taken a clear stand on separating the party and state structure to restore integrity and impartiality into the Ethiopian government institutions. That would have helped the OPDO and the ANDM in decision-making process instead of continuously labor to reach useless backdoor dealing with the TPLF.
3. OPDO CC should have taken clear policy line by ending the existing land grab policies and laws by adopting Gadaa System Land Tenure system that recognizes three interconnected land ownership system, namely 1) private land ownership system (family ancestral land holdings), 2) communal ownership of grazing, public ways and water lands, and 3) preservation of wildlife and forest lands. Gadaa system does not recognize any form of state ownership of land. The current TPLF land policy is specifically adopted to undermine Gadaa land tenure system and transfer land ownership to the TPLF in the name of being the government.
4. OPDO CC should have taken clear and uncompromising stand on the totality and inalienability of the self-administration rights of the Oromo people including administering all Oromia cities including Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Harar, Moyale and many other cities and towns now unlawfully separated or excluded or federalized in violation of the self-administration rights of the Oromo people to protect the economic, political and social interests of the TPLF and its members. The OPDO CC should have taken clear stand to defend and protect the human security, economic security and social interests of the Oromo people by legalizing the right to bear arms by the Oromo people and building capable local self-defense forces in addition to denying TPLF officers presence anywhere in Oromia.
5. OPDO central committee should have taken a clear position to end the total absence of any meaningful Oromo representation in the federal security institutions including defense, national intelligence, and federal police as well as in the civil service sector of federal government institutions including Ethiopian Embassies abroad.
6. It is a public secret that the TPLF adopted the anti-terrorism laws, the press laws and the anti-civil society laws to politically and economically persecute Oromo and Amhara nationals in an effort to exclude the Oromo and Amhara population from the economic, political and social life of Ethiopia. It is undeniable fact that the Oromo people are the prime target and victims of these laws. These laws are also meant to divide and create disconnections between the Amhara and Oromo population in the Diaspora and in Ethiopia. OPDO should have taken a clear position to end these openly discriminatory laws that the TPLF adopted to attack, divide and marginalize the Oromo and Amhara population in the country and outside the country.
7. OPDO, as the largest and the biggest member of the governing party, should have taken a clear policy and political positions on the economic, political and social policy directions of Ethiopia at national level, at regional level in Africa and internationally in assessing the Ethiopia’s foreign, development and security policies with the countries of the region and international development and security partners in order to shape and direct the policies of Ethiopia to end the current discriminatory and exclusionist policies pursued by the TPLF in these areas. OPDO’s failure to address this critical issue is a major mistake, and it is a major abdication of responsibility.
8. Given that almost about 95-98% all political prisoners in Ethiopia are Oromo and Amhara nationals, the OPDO should have exclusively called for the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia. This is particularly important since Bekele Gerba, the first vice president of OFC and other top Oromo leaders are in grave health conditions due to abuse in prisons and denial of medical assistance by the TPLF officials who administer and run those institutions.
9. OPDO CC should have taken a clear stand in condemning the joint TPLF and Somali Janjaweed Militia aggression and invasion of the Oromo people in Eastern and Southern Ethiopia. OPDO CC should have demanded the disarming and dismantling of the Somali Janjaweed Militia and Federal government army units participated in the aggression and invasion of our people. OPDO CC should have clearly condemned TPLF federal officials who denied humanitarian assistance and media coverage of the displacement of one million Oromo civilians evicted and dispossessed by the TPLF and Somali Janjaweed Militia armed men. OPDO CC should have made a clear and open call up the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to the over one million Oromo civilians displaced, evicted and dispossessed by this war of aggression and invasion. OPDO CC should have designated the war of aggression and invasion committed on the Oromo people and the resulting crimes as crimes against humanity in order to hold all those who participated in these crimes accountable. In addition, the OPDO CC should have called upon the Oromo people to get organized and mobilized based on Gadaa system structures, values, and principles to both defend themselves, their lands and protect their economic interests.
10. Last but not least, the OPDO CC should have taken unequivocal and clear position in unilaterally recognizing Afaan Oromo as the only federal working language Oromia recognizes in it’s dealing with federal government and Addis Ababa city administration in order to force the Federal government and this prodigal city to adopt Afaan Oromo as the federal working language on equal footing with Amharic in order to end the economic, political and social exclusions of the Oromo people from Ethiopian federal institutions and Addis Ababa City Administration.