Frankly speaking, I started to doubt how far we can travel with ODP since the time I heard Jawar saying he will win over Addis Abeba either through election or Fiticha. The reason is the ODP should have come out immediately to the media and denounced Jawar. They never did. These days PM Abiys’s government and his Excellency Lemma Megersa are bowing to the demands of fundamentalist Oromos within (such as Addisu Arega) and outside (such as Jawar, Eskial Gabissa, Tsegaye Ararssa, Dereje Etena, etc) of ODP. Given the lenient nature of PM Abiy’s government to keep law and order, the absence of any significant power-sharing to a major ethnic group (Amaras) within PM Abiy’s government exposes Amaras and other ethnic groups living in Addis Abeba to grave danger. Today, all military apparatus in Addis Abeba, and at the federal level are run by Oromos which are reluctant to confront fundamental Oromos.
The Issue of Addis Abeba
The main problem and controversy facing Addis Abeba are whether ODP abides by the principles of democratic elections and whether ODP agrees to allow Addis Abebans to have a say in their own administration. ODP along with Jawar et al., keep talking they own Addis Abeba despite the so-called constitution asserts otherwise. Other Ethiopians think Addis Abeba belongs to all citizens of Ethiopia. The constitution empowers Addis Abeba as a seat of the Federal Government and independent of any other states. Whereas Addis Abeba’s old boundary was within 80 km radius, it was liquidated since EPRDF came to power in the 1980s. The constitution stipulated Addis Abeba’s new areal extent was to be demarcated with Oromia in the future. This clearly shows Addis Abeba is a separate entity. ODP need to see the experience of Washington D.C. that was created from land donated by the state of Virginia and Maryland. Washington is not owned by these states. It is under the jurisdiction of Congress. Washingtonians elect their mayor. The best avenue for ODP is to build a brand new city and fence it so that other ethnic groups are not coming. Fundamentalists, have a shame, do not try to steal other’s property.
Jawar’s illogical logic and his demand for dividends without buying a share
Jawar Mohammed has been demanding condominium be given to Oromo farmers. The reason behind his demand was the land was taken from them. First Jawar is in contradiction with the Ethiopian constitution masterminded by Meles Zenawi and Oromo elites. Jawar is known to praise the current constitution that subscribes ethnic federalism. But the irony is Jawar seems to select only what he wants. According to Jawar’s constitution, land and natural resources are public and government properties and no individual owns them. So the claim that farmers were confiscated is bogus. They can only claim compensation which they did and were given. While on the other side we who oppose ethnic federalism and the current constitution, believe that farmers are masters of their land and no one should evict them except when the land is wanted for public purposes and in such cases, farmers must be compensated with free market prices. Secondly, Jawar’s reasoning that farmers be given condos is without merit because these condos are built with a saving plan by the City of Addis Abeba and not Oromia. People who obtained the condos paid for them. Addis Abeba people had to reduce their humanly needs to make the savings. Obo Lemma was once heard saying he distributed plots of land for 500,000 Oromia government workers. Addis Abebans did not ask Obo Lemma to get these plots of land. What Jawar is doing is, going to every company and ask for a dividend without having shares in these companies. Jawar Mohamed rather should teach his people how to work hard and overcome poverty. Trying to get what does not belong to oneself is robbery which the government of PM Abiy is should not tolerate.
Time for ADP and NaMA to show leadership
I hope the ADP and NaMA will not underestimate the turmoil going on in Oromia. The message is clear: fundamentalist Oromos are transgressing the law and want to have it in their hands. What is of great concern is the uprising of Oromos outside of Addis Abeba following Jawar’s facebook message. These hooligans think their Oromoness gives them the legal right to own the land wherever they think there is Oromia administration closer to Addis Abeba. ADP in cooperation with NaMA should organize a defense squad quickly that will be stationed in North Shewa to defend Addis Abeba. Jawar Mohammed has bragged that he will one day order his qerroo troops to encircle Addis Abeba residents. It is time to show leadership for the two Amara parties, seek alliances from the South, Gambella, Afar and Somali as well as from the international community as Addis Abeba is a city for all. It is clear ODP is not interested to manage the security of Ethiopians, including the capital. It has allowed fundamental Oromos to have unlimited access in the daily decision making of the ODP. In fact, if the ODP leaders are genuine let them ratify a bill accepting unequivocally that Addis Ababa is a city for all Ethiopians, and let ADP and ODP leaders come out in a union and provide a press release to the Ethiopian people. This is a guarantee for the reform to advance ahead.
Urgent Amendment to the Constitution
Since the emergence of PM Abiy as Ethiopia’s PM, nearly 2 million people have been displaced due to the propaganda of fundamentalist activists and bad apples within regional governments. The situation is not showing any sign of normalization. If not thrown, a constitution that is not serving its citizens needs amendments. When the Derg solved the issue of land, the constitution at the time of His Majesty was thrown out. It is not possible to serve the people simply following the old constitution. When EPRDF formed the current constitution after the Derg was removed from power, the constitution Mengistu’s party framed was thrown out. Now when the TPLF is thrown out of power, the constitution it drafted should have been thrown out from the get-go. If PM Abiy has no guts to cancel the constitution, he should get it amended to serve citizens. It is no sense PM Abiy engages in other affairs of Ethiopia while the country is burning from the malfunctioning of the constitution. Thus, the right of citizens, the House of Federation and other areas of the constitution need urgent changes.
The right of citizens
Today, Ethiopian citizens have no government to rely on. This is not to belittle the great changes PM Abiy brought initially. As far as peace and security are concerned, PM Abiy has failed. Regional states have unlimited power to displace and or kill Ethiopian citizens under the pretext they do not belong here or there. Ethiopia is a signatory to the human right convention that guarantees the right to life. Jawar, Tesegaye Ararsa, and Dr. Ezkial Gabissa today are super-heading turmoil in the environs of Addis Abeba. Their reckless propaganda has served regional powers to commit excess unlawful acts against innocent citizens. Yet these activists are enjoying the unlimited right western countries give to anyone living in the respected countries. It is high time PM Abiy institute a law that guarantees citizens to have continued save life in their places of residences. This law should put regional governments accountable and force them to provide protection and rehabilitation in the event of accidents (at the cost of regional governments).
The House of Federation
The House of Federation that includes all the tribes of the country irrespective of population size is undemocratic and in no way acceptable. As we see it now it is a mouthpiece of the TPLF. The conference held in Tigray recently is a clear testament to this assertion. The actors within the Federation’s Conference were TPLF representatives, TPLF intellectuals, and the chair of the House of Federation was a TPLF cc member. It will soon be a mouthpiece to ODP. The house of federation must reflect the population size and they must be elected periodically. The House of Federation should not be allowed to interpret the law.
New Armament law
It is in the media circle that the government of Ethiopia is considering a new law prohibiting certain military hardware from owning or carrying. This would-be new armament law is untimely. Right now, the government of PM Abiy is not protecting citizens; law and order had been broken everywhere. Making a new law that will prohibit kilils like Amara from having armament to defend themselves is indirectly enabling others to have total control. If the Federal government wants this law, it should first disarm regions with excess arms. Ethsat’s analysis on this law is skin depth. They have not looked at the negative sides, and shortcomings of this would be bill.
Formation of a task committee
ADP and ODP should form a committee that oversights the progress of the changes Ethiopia has embarked since April 2018. They should identify obstacles and provide leadership. If the two parties do not meet from time to time and give solutions to the challenges our people are facing from every direction, I think the relationship with the two parties that brought the current marvelous changes in Ethiopia is going to evaporate soon. It is not impossible for a head-on collision between the two parties if things deteriorate at the current pace. The federal government has opted to be neutral against TPLF’s war drum against Amara, and ADP is not seen demanding the federal government punishes the TPLF. When the TPLF trains over 70,000 military personnel what is ADP doing? ADP’s failure to demand power in the federal military apparatus has caused PM Abiy to ignore Amara plight. ADP even failed to organize Amaras and defend itself. It is still in fear mood as it did for 27 years. ADP should now demand equitable power sharing in the military, federal cabinet and Addis Abeba administration proportional to its seat in parliament. It should investigate the campaign by Takele Uma to distribute ID cards for Oromia permanent residents.
Yohannes Buayalew’s comments
In a recent meeting with Amara intellectuals in Addis Ababa, Yohannes tried to blame Amara intellectuals for failing to provide policy lines (comparing to what Oromo and Tigray intellectuals have been doing). I have high regard for Yohannes and he may have a point here. He is probably the guy with guts within ADP. However here is the problem Yohannes must understand. ADP (former ANDM) was chasing Amara intellectuals to please its master TPLF. OPDO at least gave its elites recognition to undertake research and support their people, and forward opinion to them. TPLF managed to rule 27 years primarily because of the unlimited service it obtained from ANDM. The poverty of leadership in Amara region is primarily the work of ANDM. At this point, the initiation should have come from ADP to call a large meeting and tell all the bad things they did in the past, and earnestly ask a pardon before their people. After TPLF was pushed out from the central government, it took ADP 4 months to remove Bereket Simon and Tadesse Tinkishu from the party, and it took 6 months to clean the rest of TPLF mouths. An insult to injury, ADP did nothing to protect Amara from Qimant and Benishangule attacks. It is sickening to see over 100, 000 Amaras displaced from attack by a tiny group. If ADP cannot manage attacks from Qimant and Benishangule, how can it withstand TPLF? It is a very shameful leadership Amaras have so far. Gedu’s resignation is welcome. It is long time overdue; he should have been made to resign when Amaras were displaced from Benishangul. Gedu is accountable for security failure in Amara. Leaders in every sphere should think ahead and forecast the direction of events to protect their people. Perhaps a younger and more energetic deputy officer is also required to support General Asamnew so that the general gets time to be engaged in the training of local security personnel. Amaras need to be trained and armed.
ODP’s press release Regarding Condos and Addis Abeba
After completing writing this easy, I just read a press release by ODP which denounced the condo lottery that helped Addis Abeba residents obtain housing. The press from ODP is a very sad situation. What Obo Lemma Megerssa is telling us is, “If you work in Washington, you can’t own a house and live in Maryland or Virginia”, emphasis mine. I am telling Obo Lemma that thousands of Ethiopians live in Maryland or Virginia and commute daily to work in Washington.
The ODP must know that the condos were built with money belonging to Addis Abebans, not Oromians. Where were you when the houses were built if you have border issue with Addis Ababa? Kuma Diriba, central committee member of former OPDO (now ODP) presided over decisions to construct the houses. The ODP also stated that it is working to own Addis Abeba, a clear message that it is going the undemocratic route to displace Addis Abebans in mass. What did the TPLF do more than the consequences of this reckless news press release? In retrospect, PM Abiy’s power monopoly in the air force, ground defense, and the security at the Federal and Addis Ababa administration levels was a clear step taken to push the ADP out of power. What a cheating of the century!! This is backstabbing, the most blatant betrayal on ADP by OPD. No panicking, ADP!!! Problem brings a solution.
Amaras should now avoid fighting among themselves. There is a grand issue we all have to tackle – the collusion of Jawar et al., OLF and ODP. This is not without a blessing from the top party bosses. NaMA must mobilize all Amaras and reach out to other citizens of Ethiopia. Ginbot 7 is a hopless party. They are engaed in uplifting PM Abiy’s persona. I would not recommend ADP to go into friction with ODP at this time since things have to clear out, but rather urge it to work with ODP cordially until it is no more possible. It is not without reason PM Abiy showed less interest to maintain peace and security in Ethiopia, and in particular in Amara. It is now glaringly clear that there might be a plan behind it. PM Abiy’s calculation may well be to create chaos, and amid this condition transfers power to Oromo fundamentalists.
We now connect the dots that the promotion of Ahmed Shide, Moferiat Kamil and Aisha Mohammed in key positions was an attempt by PM Abiy to get an alliance from Somali, SEPDM and Afar governments and parties, respectively. The recent meeting of PM Abiy with five Agar dirjitoch (sister organizations) was an attempt by PM Abiy to get a coalition for ODP in order to control power using these minorities, effectively isolating Amara and Tigray regions. In a democracy, this, not a problem but not respecting the rule of law as in the case of Addis Ababa is a great danger for the country as a whole. ADP should approach the international community and expose ODP’s intent. PM Abiy is using his position to influence other parties and I do not believe this is a democratic way of doing business. Parties must not be forced by PM Abiy to go into ODP party structure.
There is an urgent need to make a constitutional amendment in Ethiopia to contain the increasing displacement of people. In this regard, there should be a new bill addressing the rights of citizens and the House of Federation. The House of Federation should be disbanded and replaced by elected leaders proportional to population size. Any bill addressing the use of armaments should be rejected if there is no prior measure taken to disarm highly armed groups.
Jawar is known to praise the current constitution that subscribes ethnic federalism. But the irony is Jawar seems to select only what he wants. According to Jawar’s constitution, land and natural resources are public and federal Government assets and no individual owns it. What Jawar is doing is like going to every company asking for dividends without having shares in these companies. Addis Abebans took sacrifice to make the savings for building the condos. Trying to get what does not belong to oneself is robbery which the government of PM Abiy should not tolerate. Jawar Mohammed and ODP elites, let us agree on one thing: change the constitution to make the land a private property where no one displaces individuals without their consent and adequate compensation. I know you do not have the guts to do this because you want to ride the Oromo people.
The recent fundamentalist Oromos attitude in the environs of Addis Abeba is worrying. NaMA and ADP should sit down and strategize how to defend Amaras, Addis Abebans and other Ethiopians from ethnocentrism. Forget Ginbot 7. ADP must facilitate resources for NaMA as ODP is doing to Jawar et al. It is time to explore new alliances and options for Amara people.
ADP must be proactive if it wants recognition of its leadership by Amaras. You should not sit down and ponder helplessly over events. You rather get prepared to create and shape events by closely working with NaMA, Amara people and other Ethiopians. Amaras are not a security risk to any ethnic group in Ethiopia. They believe in democracy and are ready to abide by the will of the people. We expect the same from our Oromo compatriots.
ADP should demand the formation of a task force with ODP to oversight the reform, peace and security, and address rights of citizens in all corners of Ethiopia. Sidelining ADP by ODP is not acceptable. Above all, PM Abiy government must show leadership against fundamentalists not ready to be governed by the rule of law and those not willing to abide by people’s choice.
The ODP is not a party to be trusted. It is a backstabber. It imports Oromos to Addis Ababa for the sole purpose of cheating elections. I highly doubt ODP’s leadership is genuine in the Amara-Oromo unity. On the issue of Addis Abeba, ADP should approach the international community and expose ODP’s intent. Demeke Mekonnen gave a very powerful speech, before PM Abiy during Gedu’s farewell party, that, I call leadership. My hats off! I hope Abiy gets it. I am proud of ADP that it did not do the trust breach. Demeke Mekonnen, watch ODP leaders. Some are more sophisticated. Finally, I wish good luck and all success to the incoming Amara president, Dr. Ambachew Mekonnen.
Lastly, note PM Abiy is using his premier position to influence other smaller parties to join “ODP-EPRDF to form a pan Ethiopian party” and I do not believe this is a democratic way of doing business. Parties must not be forced by PM Abiy to go into an ODP party structure.