On the Current Dire Situation in Ethiopia:
A call for an All-Inclusive Political Dialogue as a Way Forward
(OLF Press Statement, April 28, 2021)
Despite the concerted efforts made by most opposition parties, the international community, serious observers, and other NGOs agree that Ethiopia is on the brink of collapse. Conflicts have caused mass killings and internal displacements, government militias are out of control killing civilians and raping women, Eritrean army and Amhara militias are causing mayhem in the Northern part and other parts of the country, atrocities in the Benishangul Gumuz region as well as in Wallo, and a yet to be addressed humanitarian disaster in Tigray has created massive challenges and dire situation the country is facing. But these are simply the tip of the iceberg.
It behooves us to submit to all the concerned parties that the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has suggested several constructive alternatives that would have averted the looming catastrophes, which unfortunately fell on deaf ears. For example, one of the significant steps we took to solve the crisis in the transition process was the wide-ranging recommendations we provided in April 2020. The OLF, together with the Alliance for Multinations Federalism, provided comprehensive recommendations to the government on the transitional process in the framework of the Ethiopian constitution. Our recommendation clearly set out how to continue with the reform after it has encountered internal and external challenges, enhance political settlement based on consensus, and spelled out how stable democratic governance could be formed through a step-by-step process within the framework of the constitution. However, the ruling party rejected our proposal.
Again, on September 13, 2020, we issued a clear statement reiterating the proposal and asking the government to reconsider the recommendation given by the alliance and wanted to work together to restore law and order, to return the reform process to the right track, and to address the grievances of the Ethiopian peoples altogether. Again, the ruling party did not consider our proposal. Instead, it continued with the harassment, intimidation, and killing of the members and supporters of opposition parties, mainly of the OLF, with increased intensity. In the same statement, the OLF had appealed to the international community, including AU, EU, and UNSC, UNHRC, to take serious actions to save Ethiopia from constitutional crises and total chaos.
On December 12, 2020, the OLF issued a statement highlighting the complex political problems that must be resolved before any election. We stated that it is impossible to conduct elections where the regional administrative structures are dismantled, war and conflict are rampant, and instability is widespread throughout the country. To this effect, the OLF suggested that the Oromia regional state must prepare itself by establishing a Transitional Government of Oromia in the FDRE to avert any form of political and security crisis and to create sufficient ground for national dialogue and consensus.
On April 7, 2021, we issued a memo on the intervention of Foreign Forces and Amhara Regional state militias in Oromia and Benishangul/ Gumuz. We asserted that this would further complicate the security situation in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.
Unfortunately, the ruling group ignored our constructive suggestions, blocked contending political views, harassed dissent, intimidated opposition parties using military forces, imposed illegal Command Posts and military rule when genuine popular opposition rose against increasing human rights abuses. Today, significant parts of the country including the regional states of Oromia, Benishangul Gumuz, and Wallo are under military Command Posts. More dreadfully, the OLF and the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), the two largest political parties representing more than 40% of Ethiopia’s population, the Oromo people, have been pushed out of not only the election but also from all political discourses in the country.
In summary, we are seriously concerned that the security situations and political instabilities in Ethiopia are deteriorating progressively, now reaching a stage of high unpredictability with widespread anarchy. Unless immediately attended to in a holistic manner by involving opposition parties, releasing political prisoners, including political leaders, and review the doomed elections, we believe that polarization and tensions in the country will continue to grow, leading to more anarchy and bloodshed. We thank and appreciate the effort of the international community so far made to address this complex problem. However, the enormity of the problem demands a more serious and holistic approach. Therefore, the OLF asks that the AU, UNSC, EU, and all concerned parties to take our proposal seriously and exert maximum pressure on the ruling group to end its military campaign and work earnestly to avert a looming crisis that will be too costly and hard to stop if it continues to develop as it is now.
As always, the OLF believes that a sustainable and permanent solution to Ethiopia’s complex political problems could only be attained with an all-Inclusive democratic process and participation of all representative political forces for political dialogue.
Finally, we would like to reiterate that OLF is willing to work with all stakeholders in paving the way for political dialogue, consensus building on peaceful resolution of political differences.
Oromo Liberation Front
April 28, 2021
Finfinnee (Addis Ababa)