February 22, 2019

OPINION: Who Is In Control In Ethiopia?

By Leenco Lata

Who is presently in control in Ethiopia? This is a strange question coming from a person who never minces his words when criticizing the EPRDF for installing an authoritarian order in Ethiopia, in which the top official is unquestionably in control. It is also strange to pose the question about a country where who is in control has never really been an issue at all. Emperor Haile Selassie, Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam and Meles Zenawi were fully in control in their day and in their distinct ways. Who is in control was never in doubt during the time of these previous rulers. Read More

VOA Interview with Obbo Leenco Bati

You can find below the link for the full interview that Obbo Leenco Bati did with VOA here regarding #OromoProtests and the current crisis in Ethiopia.


Haala Yeroo Ammaa Itiyoophiyaa Keessa Jiru Ilaalchisee Labsa ADO

Haala Yeroo Ammaa Itiyoophiyaa keessa jiru ilaalchisee labsa ADO
Guraandhala 17, 2016

Koreen Hojii Raw’achiiftuu Adda Demokraatawaa Oromo (ADO), baatii sadeen dabran kana keessa sochii fi halleen Oromiyaa keessatti deemaa jiru gadi-fageenyaan xinxaluun erga irratti mari’atee booda toftaa fi tattaafiin Wayyaaneen aangoo ishee bakka duriitti deebifachuuf carraaqaa jirttu kan fashalee fi bu’a-dhabeessa ta’uu isaa mirkaneessee jira.

Qabsoo ummanni Oromoo hidhannoo-malee fincilaa fi diddaan geggeessaa jiru ADOn ni deggera; mamii tokko malee bira dhaabbatas. Haa ta’u malee cunqursaa fi hacuuccaan gosa kamiiyyuu ummata Oromomoo harka kennisiisee diinaaf gadi-galoo akka hin taasifne hubatamuu qaba. Ummanni Oromoo mirga abbaa biyyummaa deebifachuuf, biyya guutuu keessatti mirga guutuu gonfachuuf qabsoo gurmuu tokkoon finiinsaa jiru humni kamu gufachiisu fi danqaruu gonkumaa akka hindandeenye hubatamuu qaba.

Sirni bulchiinsa Wayyaanee wagoota 25f bososeera; haala jalqaba maayyii ti; daandii gadoo irra jirti. Qawwee fi basaasaan akka duraaniitti biyya Oromoo bulchuuf yaaduun abjuu dha. Ammaan booda bakka duraatti hin deebitu. Itiyoophiyaan kiyyoo fi shororkaa hamaatti seenaa jirtti. Wayaaneen dhaabbilee polotiikaa isheen morman hunda toftaa adda addaatiin dhabamsiiftee, aangoo diinagdee fi siyaasaa goobsifattee, lafaa fi qabeenyaa dhuunfattee, seera bal’eessuun malaanmaltummaa dagaagsitee Itiyoophiyaa hallayyaatti dhiibaa jirtti. Badii kana irraa baraaruuf jabeessaanii hojjechuun dirqamaa warra dubbiin ilaalu hundaati.

Kanaafuu Koreen Hojii Raw’achiiftuu Adda Demokraatawaa Oromo (ADO) warri dubbiin kun ilaalu hundi qabxiilee sadeen itti aanan kana irraatti akka hiriiranii fi dirmatan waamicha dhiyeessa.

Tokkoffaa, dhaabileen maqaa Oromootiin deeman ta biyya keessaa fi biyya ambaa jiran hundi tokkummaan haa gurmoofnu. Lammaffaa, dhabbileen siyaasaa fi hawaasaa Itiyoophiyaa dhaabilee Oromootti makamuun tumsa cimaa uummannee biyya keenyaa hacuuccaa fi dhiittaa Wayyaannee irraa haa baraarru. Sadaffaa, hawaasin addunyaa bulchiinsi mootummaa Wayyaanee wagoota 25n darbaniif biyyaatti akka gaariitti bulchaa jira jedhee faarsuu fi if goyoomsuu dhiisee osoo biyyaattiin badii fi wal-mancaasuu hamaa keessa hin seeniin, warra dubbiin ilaalu hunda waltajjii tokkoo irratti waliitti fidee mari’achiisuun biyaattii badii irraa oolchuu irratti akka hojjettu waamicha guddaa dhiyeesina.

Walabummaan uummata Oromoo waan hin oolleedha; akkasumas birmadummaan sabootaa Itiyoophiyaa hacuucaa Wayyaanee jala jirannii waan dhihoo jiruudha. Kanaafuu gareen dubbiin ilaaltu hundi daandii qajeelaa irratti deebi’uun tarkaanfii haqaa akka fudhataniif itti gafatummaa seenaa irraa akka oolan qaabachiifna.

Dhugaa fi Bilisummaan Hundaaf!
KHR ADO 17/02/2016

Haala Yeroo Ammaa Itiyoophiyaa keessa Jiru Ilaalchisee Labsa ADO 2016

Open Letter to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn

H. E. Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Office of the Prime Minister
P. O. Box 1031
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Please allow me to extend my greetings at a time when my heart is, once again, grieving for all the Oromo that are being killed, jailed and brutally assaulted by your security forces merely for demanding their legitimate constitutional rights. During the last four months, reports reaching us from the center, east, south and west of Oromia indicate that hundreds have been killed, thousands have been wounded and tens of thousands are being held in prisons or detention centers. Rarely have in the history of contemporary Ethiopia members of a particular nationality suffered brutality on such a scale and magnitude. The Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) would like to call upon you to take practical steps to right these wrongs and avert more calamitous developments. Moreover, these upsurges of protests, despite the heavy-handed crackdown, demonstrate that the 25 year old policy of deploying the security forces to suppress popular yearning for justice, equality and basic freedoms has failed. Surely, reconsidering this policy is way overdue.

Mr. Prime Minister,
Further crackdown is no answer to the widespread and sustained protests. Neither is brandishing the government’s achievements in the economic realm for what is at stake is people’s lives. Having already stated that the country is ailing from lack of good governance, it should not be lost on you that something more serious is amiss with the EPRDF’s approach to governance. If your government does not consider these incidents as the writing on the wall, what other signals would serve as the wakeup call? At this point, pointing fingers at your usual culprits is not only pointless but also a dereliction of duty. Mustering the political will to bravely deal with the root causes of the ongoing turmoil is astute leadership.

The Oromo protests have, on the whole, been peaceful. However, that these largely peaceful rallies were at times marred by violent incidents is regrettably undeniable. We should not be surprised. The brutalities visited upon them forces youthful members of brutalized communities to consider violence as an effective response to what is happening to them and members of their society. If the government employs brutality as an effective instrument to suppress demands that the government itself has declared to be legitimate, what hinders these individuals from following the example set by officials expected to be responsible?

Mr. Prime Minister,
You, as a person with engineering training, must be aware of the valuable role that relief valve play in averting disaster. Unless the cause of the over-pressure that set off the relieve valve is identified and dealt with, catastrophic explosion would be the inevitable outcome. Peaceful protests are social relief valves indicating that simmering societal discontent is approaching explosive levels. By simply repressing them instead of dealing with their root causes, one only makes an explosion inescapable at an unpredictable later moment and with equally unforeseeable consequences.

Throughout history officials of long governing parties have failed to realize and deal with simmering societal discontents because their powerful situation cloaks them from feeling the pain suffered by the average person. If one throws a frog into a boiling vessel, it will immediately jump out and save itself by reacting to the heat shock. If it is placed in a steadily heating container, however, its body naturally adjusts to the rising temperature oblivious to its inevitable demise. I am afraid that EPRDF officials, ensconced in a comfort zone behind a wall of an expansive military and security apparatus run the risk of being blind to the storm cloud of rising societal discontent that is thickening over Ethiopia. Hence, it is in your best interests to heed the warnings of those outside this comfort zone, disturbing though their messages may be.

Mr. Prime Minister,
I have always been disturbed by EPRDF’s sense of self-righteousness and blamelessness and the ease with which it attributes all ‘wrongdoings’ to this or that culprit. I imagine you are also troubled because, as a religious person, you must believe that only the Almighty Creator is completely infallible and blameless. Thus, humble humans must engage in soul-searching exercises in order to question if, through their commissions or omissions, they contributed to tragic developments. Aside from hollow talk about lack of good governance, it is high time for EPRDF to lift the blinders of hubris and ask itself if its policies or practices led to the tragedy currently unfolding in Oromia and other similar happenings elsewhere and take appropriate action.

Mr. Prime Minister, as the leader of the country at this most trying of times, it is incumbent upon you to exercise utmost wisdom. To this end, please allow me to pose a few questions, if you may. Can Ethiopia afford more chaos? What if the situation spins out of control, as it has in many countries nearby and far off, as to plunge the country into an all-out pervasive crisis? I am afraid, as millions are, that Ethiopia is nearing a point of no return. What would be the use of waking up and wailing after the Rubicon had already been crossed?

Mr. Prime Minister,
Let me conclude by mentioning one tragic political tradition in Ethiopia with ever rising disastrous consequences. And that is the tradition of leaders failing to institute reforms with the view to averting impending disasters. Emperor Haile Selassie failed to heed such a signal when his own Bodyguard attempted the coup dẻtat of December 1960, indicating that instituting reforms was overdue. His refusal to heed the warning culminated in the tumultuous 1974 revolution that claimed his life, exposed members of his family to years of suffering and forever sealed the fate of
the millennia-old institution of monarchy.

The Emperor’s successor, Mengistu Hailemariam, could also have likely averted the separation of Eritrea by simply restoring the abrogated federation. Instead of seeking a political solution to the Eritrean issue, however, he persisted to wage war even after the coup attempt of 1989 exposed the degree to which the high brass as well as the rank and file of the armed forces was frustrated. Hence, I plead with you to aspire going down in history as the first Ethiopian leader that instituted timely reforms by heeding the writing on the wall. Much more immediately, I appeal to you to show leadership by addressing the country and taking the following measures:

 Unequivocally declare that Addis Ababa (Finfinne) is an integral part of the Oromia National State, that also serves as the seat of the federal government;
 Establishing an independent commission to investigate the killings and assaults committed against peaceful Oromo demonstrators and to bring the culprits to justice;
 Releasing all political prisoners regardless of their political, religious and ethnic backgrounds and revoking the unconstitutional laws passed in recent years;
 Sacking the Chief of Defense Staff General Mohammed Yunus (Samora), and Chief of Intelligence and Security, Ato Getachew Aseffa, for their mishandling of the crisis, and replacing them with professional and impartial officers;
 Initiating an open, transparent, and inclusive dialogue on the situation in Oromia and the country’s future.
Wishing you all the wisdom and courage required of a leader at a time of deepening crisis and with the expression of my highest regards, I remain.

Yours truly,

Leenco Lata, President
Oromo Democratic Front (ODF)

Open Letter to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn

ODF Statement on Ethiopia’s Current Situation

ODF Statement on Ethiopia’s Current Situation

February 17, 2016

The Executive Committee of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) having deliberated on the unfolding situations in Oromia over the last three months has reached the conclusion that further attempts by the regime to reassert total control are futile and actually counterproductive.

Reiterating our unwavering support for non-violent resistance by the Oromo people in their struggle for human rights, freedom, and democracy, we want to make one thing abundantly clear: No amount of violent suppression by the regime will any longer cow the Oromo into submission.
As the Oromo people, determined to end their marginalization, rises in their millions demanding legitimate rights, there can be no force that can derail it from its course towards certain victory.

The status quo of the last 25 years is shattered and no longer tenable. All attempts by the ruling party to gain control of the volatile situation through single use of security and military means has come to naught. Short of concrete actions towards political liberalization, Ethiopia risk sliding toward chaos and TPLF/EPRDF regime policies are squarely responsible. Having effectively marginalized and destroyed political opponents; imposed the political and economic dominance of a small ruling elite through illegal appropriation of land and wealth; having institutionalized corruption and damaged the legitimacy of state organs; one can no longer hope that weakened national institutions manned by the most incompetent are capable of arresting the situation from spinning out of control. Hence, averting further national tragedy is incumbent on all stakeholders.

The ODF Executive Committee therefore makes a three-pronged call. First, we call on all Oromo political and civic organizations inside and outside of the country to unite. Second, we call on all Ethiopian political and civic organizations to join their Oromo counterparts to consolidate our people’s efforts to free the country from tyranny. Third, we call on the international community to stop fooling itself that the status quo of the last 25 years in which the ruling party single-handedly dictated the country’s future is sustainable and rather help convene an all-inclusive conference to prevent further bloodshed.

The liberation of the Oromo people and that of all freedom seeking Ethiopians is inevitable, so we advise all parties to take the correct measures so as to escape being on the wrong side of history.

ODF Statement On The Current Crisis In Ethiopia_Feb 2016

Freedom and Justice for All!
Executive Committee of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF)

ODF Letter to US Secretary of State John F. Kerry

US Secretary of State John F. Kerry
Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20520
December 16, 2015

Dear Mr. Secretary,
We, members of the Oromo Democratic Front, are writing to you to bring to your attention the violent suppression of the Oromo people’s ongoing peaceful protests by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) regime in Ethiopia. We are concerned that the regime’s act of violently suppressing the peaceful expression of grievances by the Oromos could have far-reaching implications for the stability of Ethiopia and the beleaguered Horn of Africa region at large.

The Oromos are Ethiopia’s single largest national community inhabiting large swathe of Ethiopia bordering the settlements of the majority of the country’s nationalities. The Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) was established abroad in late March 2013 with the intention of returning home to peacefully and legally contribute its share in refining the current federal system in Ethiopia.

Unfortunately, the ODF’S intention of returning home, despite several communications and contacts with the leaders of the regime, has not been realized due to the other party’s lack of political will to facilitate our peaceful participation in the country’s affairs. Literally, we are not allowed to return to our home country.

Mr. Secretary,
For the second time in as many years, peaceful protests by the Oromo people are sweeping the Oromia Regional State – the Oromo settled Region of the Ethiopian Federation – as we write. Protesters are, once again, peacefully demanding that the ruling party uphold and implement articles of the Federal Constitution concerning relations between Addis Ababa, the dual seat of the Oromia state and the Federal government, and the adjacent districts and towns located in the Oromia Regional State. Instead of passing the law stipulated in the Constitution with this respect, the regime announced policies inferring the subordination of the administration of these towns and districts to that of Addis Ababa.

The policy announcement was made without any consultation with the concerned Oromo public thereby fuelling especially peasants’ fear of eviction from their ancestral farmland without sufficient compensation or alternative means of livelihood. This fear of eviction stems from past and ongoing practices of expanding urban areas without any regard to the interests and survival of the affected subsistence farmers.

The ongoing Oromo protests are highly ironic for at least three reasons. First, the ruling EPRDF won every seat both at the Regional State and Federal levels in the general election held barely a half year ago. Hence, the protests cast a shadow over the ruling party’s popularity supposedly reflected by its sweeping electoral victory.

Second, protesters are simply demanding the implementation of the relevant articles of the Constitution – a constitution strictly tailored to reflect the interests and dominance of the EPRDF. Nothing more evidences the ruling party’s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law than its refusal to respect even a constitution framed and ratified in order to reflect and legalize its particular interests and views.

Third, the ruling EPRDF takes great pride in being the sole party in Ethiopia championing the cause of the poor, particularly the rural poor peasantry. And it has won international acclaim for its efforts to alleviate poverty by prioritizing economic development over issues of democracy and human rights. However, the supposed beneficiaries of this claim and acclaim, the rural peasantry, are at the forefront of the ongoing protests in Oromia thereby belying the official rhetoric.

Mr. Secretary,
Mass peaceful protests in urban and rural parts of the Oromia Regional State have being going on for the last four continuous weeks, an unprecedented occurrence in the history of contemporary Ethiopia. The ruling EPRDF has responded not by heeding the grievances of protestors but by unleashing its security forces that have killed dozens and rounded up hundreds who are once again destined to end up in its notorious gulags.

We are aware that the US Government and its international allies consider the Ethiopian regime as the anchor of regional stability in the Horn of Africa. Sadly, this focus on the role of Ethiopia as the pillar of regional stability has evidently diverted the need to evaluate the basis of stability in Ethiopia itself. That this stability rests on naked coercion instead of democratic legitimacy is clearly evident from the ongoing mass uprising in Oromia and the government’s crackdown.

Consequently, the mass protests in Oromia should be seen as the writing on the wall demanding attention and action with immediacy. Although grievances have erupted into open protests to date in Oromia alone, discontent with maladministration is gathering steam in all other Regional States. And all of this is sadly unfolding at a time when over 15 million Ethiopians are facing the threat of famine requiring prioritizing saving lives instead of squandering energy and resources on violently suppressing peaceful demands that the Constitution be upheld and implemented.
Mr. Secretary, the time to act to save Ethiopia from the fate of Somalia and Syria is now. Accordingly, we humbly ask you to publicly advise the Ethiopian regime to immediately take the following actions:

1. Cease and desist from continuing to murder, maim and imprison peaceful Oromo protesters and to implement the constitutional provisions being demanded by the protesters;

2. Release all those detained during this and previous protests in Oromia as well as all other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience;

3. Revoke all laws passed during the last decade contrary to the spirit and letter of the Constitution;

4. Join us in forming an inclusive mechanism for hammering out a country-wide common understanding on peaceful coexistence by all cultural and religious communities;

5. Allow all those who want to operate peacefully and legally to return to the country in order to partake in these deliberations.

With the expression of my highest regards, I remain

Yours Sincerely,

Leenco Lata, President
Oromo Democratic Front (ODF)

ODF Letter to US Secretary John Kerry

Ethiopia: Amnesty warns against ‘brutal crackdown’ on protesters

Anti-terror rhetoric by Ethiopia’s government could escalate into a brutal crackdown on protesters, human rights group Amnesty International has warned.

A plan to expand the capital’s administrative control into the Oromia region has sparked deadly protests.
The government has accused Oromo protestors of links with terrorist groups and trying to topple the state. Read more here.

ODF Statment on the Killing of Oromo Students & Civilians

In the last four weeks furious clashes have occurred between peaceful Oromo protesters and Ethiopian security forces. Protests erupted in opposition to the government’s Addis Ababa Master Plan, which protesters fear would expand the capital into the towns and rural areas situated in the outlying zone of Oromia.

Students, urban dwellers, and peasants across Oromia are peacefully demonstrating rejecting the violent imposition of the so called Master Plan, which, if implemented, will lead to the mass eviction of poor Oromo farmers from their ancestral land to make way for the capital’s expansion. Moreover, the protests highlight the thorny and complex relationship, both historical and contemporary, between the Ethiopian state and the Oromo society. It reveals the deep-rooted struggle over identity, resources, and rights.

We are extremely saddened and disturbed by the heavy-handed response by the security forces. Thus far dozens of Oromo students and other civilians have been killed and hundreds have been detained. We strongly condemn this savage act unleashed against our compatriots trying to peacefully exercise rights supposedly guaranteed by the country’s constitution.

The Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) opposes the implementation of the so-called “Addis Ababa and Surrounding Oromia Zone Special Zone Integrated Master Plan” because of the following reasons:

First, Ethiopia’s capital has to date failed to reflect the transformation of the country into a multinational federation by still continuing to project the image of a single nation. This has to be corrected by affording all nationalities to put on display their voice and existence by various means such as: having cultural centers, naming streets buildings, squares and other facilities after them, erecting statues honoring their heroes, histories and cultures. These measures and other creative policies should be implemented in order to demonstrate the diversity entailed in the current multinational federal system. So long as the capital continues to exhibit the dominant characteristics of a mono-culture, mono-language, a single identity and the socio-economic interests of particular urban elite, it is no wonder that the Oromo are rallying in opposition to the capital’s expansion. In fact, it is in the interest of all supporters of the multinational federation to reject the implementation of the so-called Master Plan.

Second, the so-called Master Plan is ill-advised seen from the Oromo perspective because any plan concerning the capital must be preceded by passing a law protecting the “Oromia’s special interests” as stipulated in Article 49 (5) of the constitution. The Master Plan violates the basic spirit of the constitution by evading the special interest of Oromia and imposes the interest of the city on the surrounding zones of Oromia on the contrary.

Third, viewed from a historical context, the Plan fails to address and redress the previous wounds that were inflicted upon the Oromo people when the capital and other towns were created as the camps of the conquering armies. History attests that the Ethiopian capital and other cities in Oromia had been built by forcefully dislocating and evicting the Oromo people from their ancestral lands. It is also wise to remember that the imposition of politico-military garrisons on the Oromo people during the occupation had bought dramatic demographic changes, whose effects reverberate and resonate with the Oromo. The Master Plan further institutionalizes the injustice committed against the Oromo people in the last century.

Fourth, the process of imposing the Master Plan from the above without consulting the concerned population is incompatible with the principle of democratic governance. It violates the federal principle by ignoring and overstepping pleas even by the regional government not to rush towards implementing the plan.

Finally, one of Ethiopia’s major ills has been the concentration of employment creating opportunities in the capital. Urbanization and the promotion of industrial development should be spread out to afford everyone equitable opportunity.

Cognizant of the gravity of the situation, the ODF calls on the Federal Government to desist from further security measures and instead take the following steps:

1. Publicly and unambiguously annul the controversial Master plan, which has triggered and is fueling the ever-widening civil unrest.

2. Set up an independent commission of inquiry that investigates and reports the finding on the death of Oromo protesters and bring the perpetrators to justice.

3. Release all detained students and civilians and free all political prisoners and journalists.

4. Take practical steps to allow Ethiopia’s diverse nations and peoples composing the country’s population to display their identity in the capital by naming streets, buildings, and squares to freely celebrate their particularities in the capital.

5. Pass a law protecting Oromia’s “special interest” clause of the constitution.

6. Scrap laws and measures instituted during the last decades to stifle dissent.

7. Muster the political will necessary to open a level playing field for the domestic opposition and allow groups operating outside the country to freely and legally participate in shaping the country’s future.

8. Initiate an all-inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders to move the country forward.

Freedom & Justice for All!!
Oromo Democratic Front

Here is the link for the PDF copy.
ODF Statment on the Killing of Oromo Students & Civilians

OMN Interviews Ob. Leenco Lata, ODF President

Listen to OMN’s latest interview with ODF President Ob. Leenco Lata here.

Individual and group rights: a dichotomy or a duality?

Whether the relationship prevailing between individual and group rights is a dichotomy or a duality centrally figures in the ongoing pre-election inter-party debates in Ethiopia.

Leenco LataThis would strike other democracies as rather strange because the settlement of this issue is normally part of the constitutional process that necessarily precedes scheduling and conducting periodic elections.

The fact that such a basic principle is the subject of debate clearly demonstrates that the incumbent and some of the opposition parties hold differing opinions about the present Ethiopian constitution. Hence, those critical of the present constitution aim not only to unseat the incumbent party if they win the upcoming elections but to restructure the country once again to fit their imagination about Ethiopia. This in turn drives the incumbent to equate its remaining in power with the preservation of the current political order. It is a quintessential zero-sum game. Read More