Jul 04, 2005

Oromo Excluded From Political Process in Ethiopia

In a press statement the Oromo Liberation Front says no lasting solution can emanate from a political process where the major players are purposely excluded
Untitled Document

Statement of the OLF Executive Committee
30 June, 2005

The Executive Committee of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) conducted its regular session from June 18- 30, 2005. After an in-depth analysis of the state of the Oromo people's struggle, the extra-ordinary developments in Ethiopia following the May 2005 Elections and the future of freedom, democracy, peace, and stability in the Horn of Africa, the Committee concluded its meeting by issuing the following statement:

1- Ethiopia is at a crossroads once again. Both tremendous opportunities and grave dangers have come to the fore as a result of the current election. Whether these opportunities will be successfully utilized or ignored to the consequence that the country slides into an even more dangerous period depends on how the various stakeholders read the situation and act upon it. Many golden historical opportunities to bring about a clean break with the country's autocratic and imperial past have been lost. The tyrannical behavior of the regime before and in the aftermath of the election does not inspire confidence. The opposition should also be careful not to misread the true meaning of this election: what is witnessed is a protest vote underscoring the utter disapproval of the TPLF/EPRDF rather than a sweeping endorsement of their programs. It is therefore incumbent upon all to note that this is another opportune time and turning point. This is no time to exploit temporary advantages but rather a time to seek comprehensive solutions to the many deep-rooted structural problems that have made Ethiopia the scene of unending conflicts, destructive wars, abject poverty and cruel repression for years.

2- The momentous situation demands from all stakeholders to be realistic, responsible and foresighted. The era when nations and nationalities are told that they have the right to govern themselves while in reality the ruling party handpicks those who govern them and then centrally controls them is over. The era when the very identity and the right of nations and nationalities is denied and demands for these rights are repressed under the disguise of the unity of Ethiopia is long dead, never to return again. The subjugation, domination, and marginalization of the majority by the minority can no longer stand. We can only move forward, not standstill, not backward. OLF believes the road forward is to adopt a brand new model in which individual liberties are guaranteed and the rights of nations and nationalities are recognized and genuinely implemented.

3- The actions of the TPLF/EPRDF during the May 2005 Election and afterwards have validated our analysis that the regime has no inclination whatsoever to peacefully give up power. Although this election is different from the previous two in the sense that it is relatively more contested, it is woefully short of being free and fair, especially in Oromia and the oppressed South where the people were systematically prevented from having real choices and where an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, harassment and repression prevailed. The regime was forced to allow a measured degree of openness to deflect popular pressure for change and to win legitimacy from the international community, on whose diplomatic and financial support it depends for its fleeting grip on power, and extend its tyrannical rule. The popular desire for change put this neat calculation of the regime on its head. Sensing this rejection the regime is currently making all kinds of intrigues behind the partisan Election Board to manipulate the result. The opposition is also not providing leadership in the face of TPLF's determination to cling to power by all means. The confusion and vacillation when firm leadership is needed is providing the regime with the perfect opportunity to manipulate a flawed process to systematically frustrate the yearning of the peoples for change.

4- It is no secret to any Oromo national that the TPLF/EPRDF has been thoroughly and categorically rejected all over Oromia ever since 1991 and its hold on Oromia was facilitated by an egregious violation of human rights, repression of basic freedoms and liberties and the naked use of force. The May 2005 elections have made the rejection of the incumbent regime by all the peoples in Ethiopia complete. The regime of Meles Zenawi is clinging to power only thanks to its tight grip on its loyal and purely Tigrean security force. The regime is deliberately fanning inter-communal tension and then presenting itself as the arbiter. We condemn this abhorrently destructive action. The OLF therefore urges the international community to urgently reassess its policy on Ethiopia by noting that the TPLF is no longer a force for stability but rather a tyrannical regime whose continuation on power would only bring more chaos, repression and instability.

5- Until the TPLF/EPRDF regime ends its intransigence to resolve the impending crisis in Oromia in particular and Ethiopia in general through a peaceful political means, the OLF will continue with the popular resistance to bring about the desired change. To this effect the OLF will intensify the popular resistance in Oromia and coordinate with other organizations in other regions of Ethiopia to bring about a speedy resolution of the current crisis. We thus urge the Oromo and all peoples in Ethiopia to remain steadfast in the struggle and continue the popular resistance until victory. We believe such cooperation forged during this trying of times will lay a firm foundation for a new future where individual freedoms shall be guaranteed and the rights of nations and nationalities for self-determination shall be genuinely implemented as a basis for lasting peace and harmony.

6- We share the concerns of the international community for peace and stability in Ethiopia. We want to take this occasion to emphasize that no security force, however massive and efficient, can provide peace and stability against mounting popular resistance. No lasting solution can emanate from a political process where the major players are purposely excluded and from an electoral system that is inherently flawed and created to serve the interests of the incumbent party. The road forward is to help launch a broad-based and meaningful dialogue between all the major actors to search for a comprehensive rather than temporary solution to address all outstanding political problems. Lastly, we forewarn all the domestic and international players that no system in Ethiopia could bring about lasting peace and stability unless and until the quest of the Oromo and other oppressed peoples for self-determination is resolved and their aspiration for freedom is met.

Victory to the Oromo people!

OLF Executive Committee

Source: Sudan Tribune