Apr 12, 2005

Oromo: No Illusions About the Elections

The Oromo Liberation Front has no illusions about the outcome of the Ethiopian legislative elections in May
Untitled Document No illusions about the elections

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, Ethiopian opposition group supported by
Eritrea) has no illusions about the outcome of the Ethiopian legislative elections in May. Three OLF executives spoke to The Indian Ocean Newsletter on March 29, while in Paris, as part of a tour to inform European officials about their movement's positions. Daoud Ibsa, chairman of the OLF, was accompanied by the Front's head of external relations, Hassan Hussein (normally based in Washington) and the deputy chairman for external relations with Europe, Shigut Geleta, who is based in Berlin. For these OLF officials, the result of these forthcoming elections is a foregone conclusion, since they are "totally under the control of the government" of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Accordingly, this election will be no different, in the eyes of the OLF, from the previous one since its outcome "is predetermined". Furthermore, the rebel movement states it is "in war against the regime" today as well as after the elections. According to its representatives, it was the government of Addis Ababa which left the OLF no alternative but that of armed struggle, having ousted it from the transition government a decade ago. Asked about their vision on the future of Ethiopia and the Oromos, the OLF executives stated that they were in favour of self-determination for the Oromo population without excluding the possibility that this may lead to the creation of an independent Oromo State. But the immediate outlook is, according to them, to liberate the Oromos, like the rest of the population, from the yoke of the domination by the current regime. Afterwards, following Oromo self-determination, the creation of a new relationship between this currently marginalized community and the other peoples of Ethiopia may be envisaged. Finally, the OLF states that it wants to contribute to the emergence of a political alternative in Ethiopia. It is planning to discuss these issues at a forthcoming conference, open to non-Oromos.