Latest News in Ethiopia (Dec. 7)

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Patriotic Ginbot 7, an armed group fighting the Ethiopian regime from its base in Eritrea said its forces are present deep in Ethiopia and that they have intensified their attack against TPLF forces.

Speaking to ESAT from Eritrea, spokesperson and head of political affairs for the group, Mengistu Woldeselassie also said PG7 fighters have taken part in the resistance movements in Gondar in the past few months and is working with other self organized armed groups that are fighting the regime.

The spokesperson said his forces have carried out successful attacks against regime forces in Kabta Humera, Dansha, Addis Alem, Abderafi and other areas in northern Ethiopia.

He said contrary to the propaganda by the regime that says the attack was coming from Eritrea, PG7 fighters are inside Ethiopia fighting TPLF forces.

Woldeselassie denied claims by the Ethiopian regime that its forces have killed several fighters and arrested dozens last month.

By Ahmed Ugas

Most Ethiopians bemoan the political behavior of TPLF and the irresponsibility and myopia of its leadership. Analyzing the behavior and actions of a political unit without understanding or paying attention to its founding mythology is useless.

TPLF’s staring postulate is that the people of Tigray are special. They have been the cradle of Abyssinian civilization which they lost not because of the ineluctable global and regional socio-economic and geopolitical dynamics but because of the mischief of Amhara. They ascribe their misery under successive oppressive regimes to an identity not to abusive systems. So the whole founding mythology of TPLF is hate, nostalgia for wrongly lost glory and grandeur, and the sense of entitlement that comes with martyrdom syndrome.

That is why they justify the racist hegemony of one ethnic group in Ethiopian politics and the brazen looting of public money. It is this foundational myth and messianic ideology that needs a frontal attack not TPLF’s daily or yearly actions and utterances.

People should also understand the bulk of TPLF’s political, intelligence and military leadership are from the rural areas and therefore cannot converse with civilized and broad people from other ethnic groups.

Malice and an urge to control is a motive for choosing social rejects and weak personalities from other ethnic groups but deep down it is also about relational compatibility. “Rural idiocy” bonds these forces. People like Abay Tsehaye and Debretsion are ideologues not intellectuals. So, it is impossible to engage in a discussion. They only know dictation. That is why their system started to unravel when their equals in other ethnic groups started to go down to their level and play the identity card.

No amount of logic or modern political dialogue works with them. Those who want to take them on therefore must first shake themselves free from the encrustations and pre-possessions of civilized culture and politics.

But, while doing that, care must be taken so the bigger prize of an inclusive and democratic Ethiopia is not sacrificed through a pyrrhic victory! A serious engagement with civilized and broad Tigrayan intellectuals who are opposed to the regime will be a good start.

Making a clear distinction between the crazy ideology of a messianic liberation front and the people it purports to represent is also critical. The people of Tigray are not the enemy. This must be understood and not for political correctness or expediency. They are and should be an ally in this struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

The State Department continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest related to sporadic and unpredictable anti-government protests that began in November 2015. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services in many parts of the country may be limited without warning due to the government’s restrictions on mobile and internet communications and the unpredictable nature of the current security situation. This replaces the Travel Warning of October 21, 2016.

The Government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency effective October 8, 2016 that includes provisions allowing for the arrest of individuals without a court order for activities they may otherwise consider routine, such as communication, consumption of media, attending gatherings, engaging with certain foreign governments or organizations, and violating curfews. Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia routinely does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. The full text of the decree implementing the State of Emergency is available on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

Internet, cellular data, and phone services have been periodically restricted or shut down without warning throughout the country, impeding the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. You should have alternate communication plans in place, and let your family and friends know this may be an issue while you are in Ethiopia. See the information below on how to register with the U.S. Embassy to receive security messages.

Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, continuously assess your surroundings, and evaluate your personal level of safety. Remember that the government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations, and that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can be met with a violent response or turn violent without warning. U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should monitor their security situation and have contingency plans in place in case you need to depart suddenly.

If you are living in or intending to travel to Ethiopia, please refer to the Safety and Security section of the Country Specific Information for Ethiopia for additional useful information.

Due to the unpredictability of communication in the country, the Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to register your mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn File Photo

To Your Excellency, Hailemariam Desalegn, the Prime minister of Ethiopia

Your Excellency,

Few months ago, I heard you saying “the government [Ethiopian] wants to reform an electoral system which has excluded the opposition.” You also claimed that your collision party, EPRDF has received 51% of the overall votes in all 9 states (Kilil). If you had only 51% of the overall vote, why we didn’t see some opposition members sitting in the parliament after the last election? Your intention of “…reforming the electoral system so the voices of those who are not represented can also be heard in the parliament” looks at least sarcastic if not joke. No doubt, the voices of those who are not in the parliament now would have been heard there if they had opportunity to convert the remaining 49% in winning spree, given fair and square environment to compete. According to your statement, “Because of this electoral system 51 percent of the overall vote is enough to win across the board.” I remember that you were standing next to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel who was listening. Believe me or not, I was wondering what she was thinking when hearing these statements. She knows how difficult winning is and what 51% means as she had a slim majority in her Bundestag of Germany (a national German’s parliament). In the 2013 national election, Chancellor Merkel’s sister parties, the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, won 311(49.4%) of the 630 parliament’s seats with 45.3% of the popular vote. Eventually, the Chancellor has to find a partner party since she was short of majority seats by her own party. If the elections are fair and square, with binary outcomes such that you win or lose (assuming existence of some opposing parties to compete), the percentage of your parliament seats shouldn’t be far from the percentage of the popular votes your party won. As the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the percentages of the popular votes shouldn’t be far from the percentage of the parliament seats. I am not taking it lightly when I say the percentage of seats you won cannot be far from the percentage of the popular vote you claim; I really meant mathematically impossible.

Your Excellency,

As you know, numbers don’t lie. Unlike politics, you can’t twist numbers, change or amend the outcomes. For any given input, there is output that is pretty much known. Before completing your Bachelor in Civil Engineering at AAU, I assumed that you had at least a course in probability (there was before); and if that is the case, I hate to preach the choir about probability. The probability of receiving 100 % of the seats in Ethiopian parliament with 51% popular vote is next to zero; unless the election is rigged, unfair or no opposition showed up in almost all 547 districts of representative. To make things very simple, if you had 51% popular vote on the average, the probability of your winning a seat in any of the 547 districts of representative is 0.51, and the probability of losing a seat is 0.49. That said, the probability of winning all 547 seats of the House of People Representatives is the same as multiplying 0.51 by itself 547 times or equivalently, (0.51)547 ≈ 0, a very small number. To make it much understandable, let me take in to consideration, a higher probability of winning a district, say 90% of the popular vote; however, sweeping all the parliamentary seats is impossible. The probability of winning all is the same as multiplying 0.9 by itself 547 times or in mathematical term, (0.9)547 = 0.00000000000000000000000009347, a very small chance. Let me put it this way; winning the American Powerball jackpot lottery back-to-back for three times has approximately the same odds of winning all the parliamentary seats in Ethiopia with 90% chance of winning a seat (popular votes). Winning all seats can happen only if your government manipulates the boundaries (gerrymandering) of all the 547 districts of the country by favoring your desired outcome. I think you got the idea. For the sake of argument, let me think of a scenario where there was no opposing party in half of the districts. That is a possible scenario in a country where political opponents have difficulties to campaign freely or have limitation on needed resources. Under such scenario, let us say you were the sole political entity to campaign around and win half seats without opposition and that is about 273 seats. Similarly, let us agree the remaining half seats were allocated after fierce but fair competition between you and the oppositions. If I take your words on the popular votes at 51% for EPRDF and allies, then you are expected to win another 140 seats, about 413 seats altogether. That left about 133 seats for opposition and where is it? EPRDF’s attempt to convince the world on sweeping all seats of the parliament with 51% popular votes is an absolute lie; but, numbers never lie. Legitimately, the probability of achieving 100% parliamentary seats is very hard in not impossible. Really impossible! Even by relaxing the chance of winning the popular votes to 90%, the probability of sweeping the 273 seats (half the parliament) is not much better than zero, with actual probability of only 0.0000000000003223. To make comparison, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot is 1 in 292 million (the probability of winning the Powerball is 0.000000003425); winning the lottery has about ten thousand times better chance than sweeping the 273 (half of all) seats for EPRDF. Mathematically, it is not as easy as usual politics. A statement that says “we had 100% of the parliamentary seats with 51% of the popular votes” is difficult to support mathematically. Especially, in a place where the election was far from fairness, which as full of intimidations and jam-packed with harassments, this statement has no merit. This should be the fact on the ground as numbers never lie.

Prime Minister Hailemariam,

I am not politician nor I would like to be one; I am a math junkie who has a problem to sit down and watch when numbers are twisted and misused to gain political scores. Yes, politician love to use numbers to misinterpret outcomes and show rosy results and that is fine. But, I have never seen numbers being twisted to the extent you contradicted yourself in a single event. I don’t understand why you wanted to reform the current electoral system that we haven’t gotten a chance to test. Frankly speaking, on the paper, I don’t even see a problem with the current electoral system, which is pretty much consistent with the idea of “majority rule”, a fair system if minorities have a room to exercise their constitutional rights. The German Chancellor, who stood next to you, was elected to become a Chancellor based on a system that embraces “majority rule”. In Ethiopia, the problem is not the electoral system; the problem is the systematic process instituted just to exclude all others who are against your political philosophy. Before boarding the EPRDF’s wagon late in the game, I believe you took your time to analyze and study the good, the bad and the ugly of this party. You never dragged into the party as adolescent, when adventure overtakes a rational thinking nor as a “cool thing” that worthwhile to join pressured by friends. I think you took your time by slicing and dicing the ups and the downs of being part of such political crowds. If you joined the crowd, with the goal of doing the right thing whenever you get a chance, that day has been arrived long ago! Although I am far away from Ethiopia, I have witnessed through time that the EPRDF is intolerant with thin-skinned senior leaders. Since its inception, your front has never been known as open and inclusive, rather it known to hunt down and destroy its adversaries with no room for alternative idea. The deep-rooted belief of “my way or the highway” may take us back to Tigray, the place where hundreds of other Ethiopians were slaughtered because either they were different or they were against ethnocentrism ideology of the front. That was then and I sure we are willing to forget and forgive if things go the right way. You are now in the driver’s seat and you are expected to change the “old boys’ club” and maneuver the country away from the systematic oppression and hidden inequality. Save the people from favoritism, nepotism and the sick practice that reveals some as more equals than others in their own country! Be smart and win the people’s heart by peaceful means; look around and learn from the past. Perhaps, I suggest you go back to the drawing board and try to undo what has been done in 2015 election, a fair and square election that encompasses all. You need to invite fellow Ethiopian with open arms to let them participate in the country’s political process today, not tomorrow. Ethiopia has to be for all Ethiopian, a land for all her citizens, with full right to reside anywhere in the country, with the right to coexist peacefully respecting each other. That is a birth right that cannot be negotiated! Period!! I am sure you know how unfair the past election was, but it is up to you to correct the future. I don’t want to see the country slowly or abruptly sliding into chaos, violence and civil unrest. Believe it or not, no one will come out of that as a winner, rather all lose. It doesn’t take an aerospace engineer to understand that violence is a bad game that has no winner. We witnessed what has happened to other nations in Africa, Mideast and Europe; we have seen nations that are languishing in wars with no end in sight. When it comes to our, enough is enough! We were busy fighting each other for hundreds of years, as a result, we have very little to show the world as compared to our existence on the land. If you realize, our history has been war and violence, artifacts and civilization erected by a predecessor destroyed and eradicated by incoming powerful successor.

It is up to you, the prime minister of the country to change course and calm the anger of the people. There has been too much of greed taking over the country, there are too much of selfishness and corruption that has been blown up under EPRDF and on your watch. The country has become a land of the selected few, who have the means to send their children abroad for primary schooling whereas; millions of others work harder in the same country just to get by. Today, many Ethiopian are left out or left behind as year-to-year dependent of foreign aids. I think we can do better! We lost our pride then now our humanity. Thanks to the EPRDF for skewing the wealth distribution towards few elites, favoring its cronies and ignoring the vast majority. That has to change today.

Prime Minister Hailemariam,

Your political organization alone has been in power for the past 25 years, now it is time to try something new. Change has to come to Ethiopia without killing more and without killing each other. The people have suffered a lot with more poverty today than it has been 25 years ago. As it has many milliners if not billionaires, Ethiopia also has more people without basic needs now than ever before. The Gross Domestic Product growth that you are bragging about day-in and day-out is a rosy picture that looks nice from distance. But, who is growing, who is benefiting? And who is losing? Please take your time to look around and answer them for yourself. Nowadays, millions of Ethiopians are spectators (YEBEYI TEMELKACH) of the few others. Millions have difficulties to survive in a place they were born; others chose to take their chance with the Mediterranean sharks, although getting to the sea is not an easy task. Whether we like it or not, the fate of this country is determined by its people and you have a chance to facilitate that now by starting a peaceful transition of power, which belongs to the people of Ethiopia. It is up to you to make it or break it, but the latter has a devastating consequences. The choice is yours, either you follow the footsteps of your predecessor and drag the country into a sea of violence or you do the right thing and make Ethiopia a shining city on the hill. If Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia can do it so can you! I think Americans appreciate George Washington not because of his first presidency, rather for his will to transfer power without a single bullet. It is not too late be the first George Washington of Ethiopia!!!!

Source: Nazret

This file photo taken on October 2, 2016 shows residents of Bishoftu crossing their wrists above their heads as a symbol for the Oromo anti-government protesting movement during the Oromo new year holiday Irreechaa in Bishoftu. (Zacharias Abubeker / AFP/Getty Images)

Arrest of opposition leader Merera Gudina follows months of anti-government protests

By John Aglionby | FT

A senior figure in Ethiopia’s opposition, angered by the arrest of his party leader Merera Gudina for allegedly “making contact with terrorist groups”, said he was willing to commit a crime under the country’s strict state of emergency laws by criticising the ruling party.

The Oromo Federal Congress executive, who asked for anonymity, was scathing about the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, the coalition that has governed the African nation for 25 years and controls every seat in the Addis Ababa parliament.

“People want total change. This means the EPRDF has to hold a free and fair election,” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “But they interpret that as wanting to overthrow the government by force. They will cut your neck for saying so.”

At first glance Addis Ababa, a city of more than 3m people at the centre of one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies, appears to be normal. But beneath the surface it is clear that Ethiopia’s authoritarian rulers are in a fight for survival as they combat unprecedented levels of discontent.

The regime, which is dominated by ethnic Tigrayans, who comprise only 6 per cent of the population, admits that more than 500 people have probably been killed since anti-government protests began 13 months ago. Two months into what is expected to be a six-month state of emergency, 11,600 people have been arrested.

Opposition groups say the real figures are several times this. However, both sides’ claims are impossible to verify since neither gives evidence and the internet has been shut down in vast swaths of the country, stifling communication.

The strategy of Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister since the death in 2012 of long-time strongman Meles Zenawi, appears to be to crush dissent, reshuffle the cabinet and focus on inclusive growth.

“Our democratisation process is still nascent,” he said recently. “It is moving in the right direction, but it has not yet come up with inclusive engagement.”

Diplomats in Addis Ababa described the government’s response as “superficial”. “They have failed to address the underlying grievances that caused the protests in the first place,” one said.

Demonstrations began in November 2015 in opposition to a government plan to extend Addis Ababa into the surrounding Oromia region. The initiative was eventually shelved but the heavy-handed response brought deeper-rooted complaints to the surface.

These included perceived inequitable benefits from more than a decade of double-digit economic growth, nepotism, land-grabbing and a lack of democracy. Memories of a brutal government crackdown after the 2005 election remain strong.

The protests spread to Amhara, and the peoples of the two regions, who make up 65 per cent of the population but for decades have rarely seen eye-to-eye, became united in opposition to the regime. But rather than engage their opponents, the ruling elite became inward-looking and repressive.

“They only talk to themselves and their echo-chamber is very loud but it’s soundproofed on the outside so they only hear their own propaganda,” said the diplomat.

Analysts say the regime’s development model, the foundation of its legitimacy, is becoming its Achilles heel. It is founded on copying nations such as South Korea, Singapore and China, which prioritised state-led development over democracy and until last year it proved extremely successful.

Grand infrastructure projects, such as dams and industrial parks, combined with political stability attracted droves of investors, particularly from China. Foreign direct investment rose from $78m in 2008 to an expected $2.5bn this year.

But as Zemedeneh Negatu, a prominent Ethiopian business leader said: “These big economic bets they want to make take time to pay off . . . and the space [available] to allow these bets to deliver is much shorter than the environment the Asian tigers operated in the 1960s and ’70s.”

“Furthermore, the advent of new technologies has elevated the public’s expectations of the timing and the quality of the deliverables.”

Protests have so far put only a slight brake on economic growth. Major investments are still announced each week and on Friday the government said economic growth in its 2015-16 financial year was still 8 per cent despite a bad drought.

Yet such continued strong growth makes little difference to the regime’s opponents.

“Even if they bring gold and diamonds, people have given up on this government,” said a student activist, too afraid to give his name. “They will do whatever it takes to see change. The only question is how long it will take. Maybe five years, we hope only one.”

By Tedla Woldeyohannes

For keen observers of the current Ethiopian politics, especially the writings, media interviews, and social media comments and posts by Oromo elites and activists, one topic has kept receiving a steady focus more than others: The role of Emperor Menelik II in the formation of the modern Ethiopian State and how largely negative and bad the emperor’s legacy is, especially for the Oromo people. In this piece, I sketch some major episodes in the Oromo Protest during the last one year to highlight the point that an attack on Menelik II and his legacy is not an isolated incident in the Oromo movement according to the Oromo elites; it is rather an integral part of it. One of my goals in this piece is to show why an attack on Menelik II is an integral part of the whole Oromo project according to the Oromo elites and activists. I submit that the dispute, claims and contentions about the meaning and significance of the Battle of Adwa[1], issues involving Addis Ababa from the Oromo elites and activists are also extensions or corollaries of the attack on Menelik II and his legacy. Also, the debate on whether there is an Ethiopian national identity, Ethiopiawinet, is an extension of the attack on Menelik II and his legacy. For the preceding reasons, I take it that to understand the significance of the attack on Menelik II is essential to a proper understanding of the project of the Oromo movement including a need to produce the Oromo Freedom Charter.

What Has Happened to the Immediate Causes for the Oromo Protest?

A year or so ago, the Oromo Protest began with the legitimate demands of the Oromos who suffered injustice under the current Ethiopian government. The injustice the Oromos have suffered under the current regime are part and parcel of the injustice the Ethiopian people have suffered under the regime in power for the last 25 years. We all know that the Oromo people in Oromia regional state have been mercilessly subjected to all sorts of mistreatment because they demanded the government to stop the ever-expanding land grab, to stop human rights violations, to allow peaceful protest to express their grievances, to stop marginalizing the Oromos from the political space in Ethiopia, etc. However, in light of what has recently become the frequent topics of debate by the Oromo elites and activists, it looks like we are almost at a point when we need a reminder what triggered or started the Oromo Protest a year ago. The last several months the issues raised as part of the Oromo Protest are no longer what had triggered the Oromo Protest a year or so ago. The truth is that the Oromos who were initially protesting against the Master Plan, or the land grab in the Oromia Region, were not protesting against Menelik II and his legacy at that point, or even until now. If the regime in power did not engage in land grab and other unjust treatments of the Oromos, like the rest of Ethiopians, would the Oromo Protest have started as a protest against the bad legacy of Menelik II as we have been hearing lately? From the perspective of the protesters on the ground, based on the available evidence, the answer to this question is a resounding “no.” Imagine starting a protest against Menelik II’s legacy calling it as such and asking the regime in power to meet the demand. That would be a bewildering demand for the government. An important and inevitable question now is this: Why did those Oromos who have paid ultimate prices with their lives and those who have suffered life-altering injuries and imprisoned and tortured have paid all these prices? There is a need for a clear answer to the loved ones for the deceased and to those who will continue to be part of the Oromo Protest. The Oromo elites need to offer a clear answer without mixing the reason why the Oromos on the ground were protesting and their frequent and increasingly growing project of revisiting and reinterpreting Ethiopian history by way of attacking the legacy of Menelik II.

It is one of the purposes of this piece to seek a clear answer to the question: What is the ultimate goal of the Oromo Protest? Now we all know that the Oromo Protest has rapidly evolved into what it is now: a deconstruction of Ethiopian history, Ethiopian national identity, calling into question the meaning and significance of the Battle of Adwa.[2] Now it is absolutely crucial to understand the nature and the scope of the Oromo Protest or movement at this current stage. The answer the Oromo elites are presenting has frequently and increasingly comes in the form of engaging the issue of state formation in Ethiopia and with a claim that the Oromo nation has been colonized by the Abyssinia or the Ethiopian empire.

Menelik II: The Colonizer?

According to some Oromo elites, the answer to the question whether Menelik II was a colonizer is a resounding, “yes.”[3] In his response to my article on the Oromo National Charter[4], Prof. Ezekiel Gabissa writes, “The question of internal colonialism has been a subject of academic debates since the mid-1980s. In Ethiopian studies, the pertinent themes were outlined and discussed in several essays in The Southern Marches of Imperial Ethiopia edited Donald Donham first published in 1986. The eminent sociologist Donald Levine describes the two sides as the “colonialist narrative” and the “nationalist narrative.” These means the debate has ended in interpretive disagreement. A generation of students in Oromia and other regions have [sic] up grown up learning the “colonialist narrative” version over the objections of the advocates of the “nationalist narrative.” This is a settled issue to need any explanation.”[5] From Prof. Ezekiel’s point of view, the debate whether the Oromos were colonized does not need further explanation. I disagree. We are not dealing with a mathematical or logical proof to suggest that historical disputes can be settled without a need for further explanation. At any rate, it is not the purpose of this article to engage in the debate whether Menelik II was a colonizer and whether the present regional state, Oromia, was once an independent nation which came under a colonial empire led by Menelik II.

In my view, to call the modern state formation in Ethiopia a case of colonialism seems to normalize and trivialize the European colonialism of Africa. This does not mean that one has to deny any injustice committed against any ethnic group in the present day Ethiopia in the process of state formation of modern Ethiopia. How we address the issue of injustice that took place under the modern state formation in Ethiopia need not be framed as an issue of colonialism. If it is framed as such, then the European colonialism of Africa and the state formation in Ethiopia would be considered the same phenomenon. Plus, even more surprisingly, all non-democratic state formations in the history of the world would count as cases of colonialism, but that is too broad for a notion of “colonialism” to be of use to address issues that are rooted in the historical context of Ethiopia. Having said this, I submit that the Oromo elites see a need to portray the modern state formation in Ethiopia as a case of internal colonialism because without this view a case to reclaim an independent nation, i.e., Oromia as a sovereign state, can hardly be realized. In other words, the colonial thesis in the modern state formation of Ethiopia is a necessary thesis for the Oromo elites. If a nation is colonized, the logical thing to do is to seek its independence as this has been the case for African countries. On what basis would the Oromo elites argue that they are not seeking an independent Oromia as a sovereign nation if they insist that Oromia has been colonized be the Abyssinian/Ethiopian Empire? The claim of colonialism suggests that what the Oromo elites are seeking is an independent Oromia despite the apparent denial by some of the Oromo elites. Hence, for Oromo elites, Menelik II must be portrayed as a colonizer for one clear purpose: to seek an independent, sovereign nation, Oromia. Absent the colonial thesis, to seek an independent Oromia as a sovereign nation would be moot. Conversely, insist on a colonial thesis so that seeking an establishment or a rebirth of the Oromo nationhood becomes a legitimate issue; “legitimate, at least in the eyes of the Oromo elites. In my view, the Oromo elites need to come out and make their intentions clear to the Oromos who have been dying on the ground and to the rest of the Ethiopian people if seeking an establishment of Oromia as an independent nation is not their ultimate goal given their commitment of the colonial thesis. They also need to say why they need a colonial thesis if they are just seeking a just and peaceful and democratic Ethiopia in which the Oromos will be part of the rest of Ethiopians building Ethiopia going forward, definitely without the regime in power continuing to rule and ruin Ethiopia.

Independent, Sovereign Oromia

Why should anyone argue for the preceding view, i.e., Oromo elites are working to regain the independence of Oromia as a sovereign nation? Here are a few more reasons:

First, think for a moment how and why the recent “Oromos-only* conventions have been organized and what the focus of the Conventions in London and Atlanta was. Why Oromos-only? This question has a straightforward answer, though unconvincing: Because these conventions were designed to deliberate and discuss the issues that affect the Oromo people in Oromia. This straightforward answer is premised on the idea that the issues that affect the Oromos in Ethiopia are somehow unique and hence the need to address them by the Oromos-only first and foremost. But this premise is false. The issues that affect the Oromo people in the current Ethiopia are widely shared with the people of Ethiopia under the same authoritarian government. The Ethiopian authoritarian government jails, kills, harasses people from any ethnic group as long as their dissent threatens the safety of the regime in power. No one needs to dispute the fact that the Oromos and the Amharas are mistreated by the regime with greater frequency because the regime feels threatened due to historical relations with the Amharas and the regime’s conception of the OLF as a threat to disintegrate the country. Returning to our point, for the Oromo elites and activists to exclusively focus on issues that affect the Oromos and everyone else in Ethiopia only by the Oromos alone is more plausibly in line with the claim I made above. That is, the desire of the Oromo elites is to exclusively organize the Oromos to address the issues that affect the Oromos, despite the fact that the issues that affect the Oromos are shared with millions of other Ethiopians. In my view, the best available explanation for this strategic move by the Oromo elites is this: Once the Oromo movement arrives at a stage when it appears feasible to seek independence for Oromia, all the things the Oromo elites have been doing in the meantime will be presented as evidence that the Oromos have arrived there by the efforts of the Oromos alone and no other group can have a say on the fate of Oromia. If this is not the best available explanation, how would the Oromo elites explain what they have been doing remains to be seen.

Second, there has been a discussion recently on whether there is a shared national identity for Ethiopians which some Oromo elites deny that there is such a shared national identity. It is not the purpose of this article to engage in the debate whether there is a shared national identity for Ethiopians, which is a worthwhile topic that deserves a serious engagement elsewhere. My present interest is to make the following point: According to some Oromo elites, the Oromo identity that predates Menelik’s colonial conquest was the true Oromo identity and hence it needs to be restored, or regained, or reaffirmed for Oromos to be truly Oromos. In order to do that the Oromo identity must be distinguished from an imposed Ethiopian identity on the Oromos by the Abyssinian Empire. One can easily see that an attack on Menelik’s legacy crucially includes an attack on Ethiopian identity since an imposed Ethiopian identity on the Oromos is a direct consequence of Menelink’s colonialism, according to this reasoning. Hence, an Oromo identity without an imposed Ethiopian identity will reemerge as an Oromo identity only in an independent Oromia. This is a clear motivation why some Oromo elites engage in the debate on Ethiopian identity only to deny it. If this is not the reason why the Oromo elites want to deny Ethiopian identity as a shared national identity, what else motivates such a debate about Ethiopian identity? If all other ethnic groups and nationalities incorporated in the modern Ethiopia by Menelik’s southern expansion were to follow suit and deny a shared Ethiopian identity that would bring about a disintegration in an Ethiopian national identity, which amounts to a disintegration of Ethiopia as we know it. But is there a rationale to follow this reasoning following the Oromo elites lead? Apparently, the Oromo elites would answer this question in the affirmative since it would support their goal, the independence of Oromia that is free from a shared national identity with the rest of other nationalities in the present day Ethiopia. Think for a moment, once again, all the exclusions of other ethnic groups in most of the Oromo issues as the elite Oromos and activists have been doing. This almost complete disregard to other ethnic groups in Ethiopia is perfectly consistent with the claim I have been making so far that the desire for the Oromo elites is the independence of Oromia first and foremost without explicitly saying so despite the evidence that supports such a conclusion. I leave to the readers to develop the case of Addis Ababa and how some Oromo elites frame the issues involving Addis Ababa. I submit that it is another extension of an attack on the legacy of Menelik II.


Given the evidence that is available for any keen observer of current Ethiopian politics, I have argued that the best available explanation that unifies the Oromo movement according to the Oromo elites and activists is ultimately seeking the independence of Oromia as a sovereign nation. Short of this goal, it is deeply implausible to interpret all the evidence regarding the activities of the Oromo elites with another goal as the ultimate goal for the Oromo movement. Note that I did not claim that the Oromo people on the ground who have been killed, jailed and tortured have as their goal an independent Oromia as a sovereign state. Some might have such a desire or aspiration, but the evidence does not suggest that is why they have been protesting for a year or so. We all know what the demands were and the injustice the Oromos have been protesting against for which they have paid prices including the lives of many, in hundreds, if not in thousands just in one year alone. In my view, consistent with the argument above, the Oromo elites are working to put together a coherent idea that would serve as the cause worth dying for for the Oromo people, but without the Oromo people expressing that the ultimate goal they want to achieve is an independent, sovereign Oromia. If my claims so far are correct, which I think are correct given the evidence, the Oromo elites and activists need to make clear the ultimate goal of the Oromo movement so that people who face the brutal government need to have a clear goal for which they are paying a price including their lives. One of the chief motivations for my decision to write this piece is observing and reflecting on an apparent mismatch between the actual reasons the Oromos on the ground have been paying prices including their lives, and what the Oromo elites and activists offer as the main goal of the Oromo movement in the last one year. If the Oromo elites speak for the actual Oromo people on the ground, it is a responsible thing to be on the same page with the people on the ground at least on being clear why the people on the ground are paying prices for.

Finally, it must be noted that I did not claim that the Oromo elites and activists are totally detached from the movement of the Oromo people on the ground. Absolutely not! My main claim is that as opinion makers and shapers, the Oromo elites have as an ultimate goal for the Oromo movement the independence of Oromia as a sovereign nation without explicitly saying so for a political backlash such a view would bring about. This claim is based on the evidence presented above. It is for the Oromo elites to show that either they accept the claim I have argued for or they reject it or they show another more plausible explanation of the evidence on which my argument is based. If they accept it, that is an important clarification for the Oromo people as a whole and for the other peoples of Ethiopia. If they reject my claim, then it is also important for them to show where the mistake is. That would also add clarity to the ultimate goal of the Oromo movement. Now the most important question is: What is the official, ultimate goal of the Oromo movement according to the Oromo elites, if it is different from what I argued for above, i.e. seeking an establishment of Oromia as an independent, sovereign nation?

*Tedla Woldeyohannes teaches philosophy at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and he can be reached at

[1] For my response to a claim that Menelik claimed that he was a Caucasian and the consequent trivializing of the significance of Adwa see,

[2] For an article that calls into question the role of Adwa in modern Ethiopian history see, Hassen Hussein and Mohammed Ademo,

[3] See Asefa Jalata and Hardwood Schaffer:


[5] See here,

By Tsegaye Ararssa

Once a prison-guard forever a prison-guard. We protest a master plan, they seek to legitimize Menelik. We protest against injustice, they talk about Oromo secession. We protest killing, they talk about the status of Addis Ababa.

We talk about solidarity, they talk about unity. We talk about a freedom Charter, they talk about an Oromo government they have concocted in their head while dreaming a bad dream. We talk about preparing for consensus, they talk about an impending conflict and wage war on Oromos everywhere.
We talk about people, they talk about territory. We talk about land as livelihood, they talk about flags. We talk about rights, they talk about power and privilege. We talk about language, they talk about 'national identity' in a multinational country.

We talk about the rights of all oppressed peoples to collective emancipation, they foment their Oromophobia saying that the only problem of Ethiopia is the Oromo.

We talk about justice, they talk about security. We talk about equality in dignity, they talk about preservation of the old prison-house.

Why do they want to distort the demands of the Oromoprotests? Why do they assign a slogan that the protests haven't picked? Why do they seek to obfuscate the simple and straightforward demands of the Oromo?

Because they want to delegitimize the movement and discount the Oromo efforts to bring about change. They want to draw a caricature, a scare crow really, to deny support to the revolution and to kill it.

At a deeper cultural level, they, like the TPLF, read from a script that reframes peoples' questions, misreads the symptoms, and offers a wrong answer/prescription that suits only their own wishes.

True to character, they hate and fear the people. They strive to silence the people. They stifle all efforts at popular self-expression. TPLF-EPRDF fears election. Their counterparts in the opposition fear the very idea, the very mention of or allusion to popular referendum. They insist on keeping the prison safe at any cost.

In short, the only politics they know is the politics of a prison-guard. Born and bred in imperial times and trained as prison-guards of the dead and the living, they keep protecting a dead coffin of an emperor long dead, a script that is long gone obsolete, and a prison that still kills thousands (Qilinxoo), a prison that is a metaphor for the country itself.

One wonders if the privilege of a prison-guard is so much worth defending.

By Ethiopian Task Force NY/NJ | Date: October 30, 2016

Dear opposition party Leaders

We are Ethiopians from different ethnic background living in New Jersey and New York area. While we all celebrate our diversity and ethnic identities we are all proud to say we are Ethiopians first.

As we are writing you this letter we strongly believe our country is at a critical path in its history. We also believe that all Ethiopians have individual responsibility to voice their concern and participate in the political process more than any time in the past.

The main factor for the current dire situation in our country is mainly perpetrated by the Ethnocratic government in power. During the past twenty plus years, the TPLF regime has done a lot of crimes on Ethiopians of every background and ethnic origin. Some of the serious crimes committed by TPLF include
  • Dividing people along ethnic lines and encouraging ethnic cleansing as a means to prolong its Ethnocratic power via divide and rule
  • Mass killings of Anuak, Somali, Oromo and Amhara brothers and sisters
  • Killings of peaceful protesters as meant to terrorize opposition
  • Imprisoning, torturing and abusing of opposition leaders and completely dismantling any meaningful political opposition over the years
  • Rigging elections and claiming 100% victory when there is no opposition
  • Displacing people from their land by force
  • Working as a corporation while governing with a plot to systematically control the country’s economic, political and military power via ethnic association
  • Imprisoning of thousands of Amhara and Oromo youth in an unfriendly desert area infested with mosquitos intentionally done to demoralize and even eliminate the youth that demands democratic reform
Despite severe suppression, the recent up rise of Ethiopians in Oromo and Amhara region have demonstrated their bravery and there thirst for democracy. The stunning reality for the brutal dictatorial regime was the demonstration of mutual love and unity of the people of Ethiopia despite their ethnic background.

It is not secret that for more than twenty years TPLF has worked hard to make the two ethnic groups (Amhara and Oromo) enemies. The strong desire by the sick regime to make the two ethnic groups fight each other instead of challenging it did not work well. Ethiopian youth has demonstrated a high level maturity, selflessness and the strong desire to stand shoulder to shoulder in the struggle for freedom. To its dismay TPLF has witnessed the bond between Ethiopians is greater and the feeling for liberty and democratization of the country is mutual.

For Ethiopians living far away from our homeland, that was a moment to celebrate and admire the tenacity of our compatriots. That solidarity also came with big price as people who are expressing their displeasure to the current regime and their unity to each other became targets of merciless killings, tortures and disappearances. We all know people have paid the price in an unthinkable ways in blood and treasure. People all over the country have lost their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, businesses and livelihoods.

While admiring the bravery of our Ethiopian brothers and sisters we also are deeply saddened by the brutal response by a brutal government.

While these are some of the facts on the ground we will also like to remind you Ethiopia as any other country in the world has no perfect history. Our history of thousands of years is a history full of fighting and hardship. Fighting has taken place between various powers for control of land and people from the North to the South from East to West. History teaches us that in all cases while few people have always been beneficiaries of a system, most Ethiopians have lived under poverty and share similar stories of hardship. It is also true some ethnic groups have been mistreated more than others. As there are close to eighty ethnic groups in our country we also believe in the fact that some ethnic groups have been taken advantage of and not been represented adequately in any of the political process.

Acknowledging there are a lot of issues to be resolved by all Ethiopians via dialogue and civil discourse in a democratic Ethiopia we also believe our unity is our strength and that should not be questioned by any political opposition. We never believed our unity to be a problem. However we all want a democratic Ethiopia that respects the rights of all individuals despite their ethnic origin. We want an Ethiopia where everyone gets treated fairly without screen of ethnic identity or association to power or wealth. Ethiopia should be equal for all Ethiopians.

As one of the few countries that fought and defeated a well-armed colonial power to keep its freedom, we believe Ethiopia should lead by example and encourage the unification and mutual collaborations of African nations and should never be considered as a subject of experimentation for narcissistic, shortsighted, irresponsible, hatred filled and dangerous power mongers.

We believe the idea of dividing Ethiopia into pieces is an idea from TPLF, meant to weaken any opposition and eventually separate Tigray from Ethiopia. This is a sick idea by a sitting government. Anyone or group that hopes and struggles for a better future for our people should know that this is a deadly plan equivalent to geopolitical, social and economic suicide for Ethiopia and Ethiopians.
As a political party leader we respectfully ask you to pay close attention to and study recent happenings in the world. Ethnically and religiously divided places have become death beds for young and old resulting in complete destruction of life, country and family as we know it. Unfortunately these scenarios have already happened in Rwanda, failed state of neighboring Somalia, parts of neighboring Sudan, Yugoslavia and Syria.

As Ethiopians we are deeply concerned about the recent rhetoric from Leaders of some opposition parties on breaking Ethiopia apart. Based on above mentioned facts we do believe the intentions of these leaders are same as the intentions of TPLF and as we are against TPLF for reasons including the ones we listed early on we would like to condemn in the strongest terms possible, the leaders who claim to represent our Oromo brothers and sisters and preach division instead of unity. We believe these leaders are same as TPLF and they are in the opposition business as power mongers and they do not represent the view of majority of Oromo’s.

As an opposition leader we also ask you to be responsible and sensible to people’s lives, the struggle and the price people are paying for freedom in the frontline. We ask you to stop preaching divisive rhetoric and stand with majority of Ethiopians. We ask you not to be a weapon for the current brutal regime during these critical times. If the sole purpose of your being in the opposition politics is to divide and rule we ask you to drop your opposition hat and join TPLF, as we believe divide and rule is the motto of TPLF that is completely rejected by Ethiopians.

We plead to you to work with and join other political leaders, parties, associations and individuals that support unity and the struggle for Liberty of Ethiopians as soon as possible. This is a moment to show true leadership and we ask you to stand up and demonstrate your patriotism to the country and its people.

By ESAT News

A cardiac surgeon from Sweden already imprisoned in Ethiopia for several years could be changed with additional crimes, reports Swedish Television.

Fikru Maru was jailed in 2013 and later sentenced to four years and eight months for having knowledge of corruption between a minister and a prosecutor. Maru has always denied any wrongdoing.

Now, he could be charged in connection with a fire at his prison that killed dozens of inmates in September.

Ethiopian authorities have charged some 38 prisoners in court for causing the deadly blaze. Maru is believed to be one of them.

“They have apparently decided that he will not leave the country,” said Maru’s lawyer Hans Bagner to news agency TT.

Maru, who is reported to be seriously ill, has served much of his sentence and had hoped to be released early on account of good behavior. The new allegations would greatly complicate his release, Bagner said.

Patric Nilsson, an under secretary at the Swedish Foreign Ministry, said the office has information that an indictment may be on the way. He said the government is working on the case.

Maru’s “condition is serious and it is vital that we, together with his family, try to find some solutions so that he can be cared for,” Nilsson told TT.